Tainted Vasai legislator Hitendra Thakur will not contest the October 13 polls.
This has surprised political circles but some senior leaders say this is a deliberate move by him to stay away from
controversy as Thakur, who is alleged to have links with the underworld, has now forged an alliance with the Congress.
Thakur (48) wields considerable influence in the far western suburbs between Vasai and Virar as well as the area beyond that, in the industrial town of Boisar and rural areas like Palghar and Dahanu in Thane district.
He was elected on a Congress ticket in 1990, but was expelled from the party after the Congress came under fire over criminalisation in politics.
Having thrived on the real-estate boom in those suburbs, he then contested as an independent and won for three consecutive terms.
His party, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, rules all municipal bodies in the area and recently got its candidate Baliram Jadhav elected in the Lok Sabha elections from Palghar constituency – where the Congress finished a poor third.
Now, with the numbers game heating up, becoming especially important after the elections, the Congress wants a tie-up with Thakur’s party.
Thakur said his decision has nothing to do with the Congress.
“I’ve decided to lead my own party. Henceforth, I will get my workers elected – this time, I’m sure of winning four Assembly seats,” he told Hindustan Times on Saturday.
However, the Congress-Thakur pact is already showing cracks: Thakur’s wife Pravina has filed her nomination from Vasai, which the Congress has refused to part with. The Congress offered Thakur two seats – Nallasopara and Boisar.
“The Congress initially gave us Vasai but then refused to part with it on Friday evening. We also wanted Palghar.”
Thakur said he might have “friendly fights” with the Congress in Vasai and Palghar if the dispute stays unresolved after the day of withdrawal of nominations.
Seventeen years ago, the Congress snapped ties with Thakur after his gangster brother Jayendra alias Bhai Thakur was jailed under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. Now, the Congress wants to revive relations with Hitendra for his clout in the Vasai-Virar belt.