Senior Congress leader Narayan Rane on Tuesday filed his nomination papers for the Bandra east assembly seat by-election to be held on April 11. The former Maharashtra chief minister has decided to take Shiv Sena head-on in the latter's backyard.
The Congress leaders who accompanied Rane were: MPCC president Ashok Chavan and Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, Leader Of Opposition in the assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, former state Congress president Manikrao Thakre, Rajya Sabha MP Bhalchandra Mungnekar, MLA Naseem Khan, former MP Priya Dutt, former MLA Kripashankar Singh, Gajanan Chandurkar.
In a show of strength, many senior Congress and the Nationalist Party Congress (NCP) leaders and huge number of supporters were present.
Krishna Hegde, the spokesperson for Mumbai Congress, said "There were about 5,000 party workers in rally that was taken from Bandra Court to Congress before nomination paper was filed."
Rane claimed that he was contesting the by-poll on his party's insistence and said that he would easily win since there was no strong candidate in the ring. "The support (crowd gathered here) indicates that I will win from here. There is no strong candidate," Rane said after filing the nomination.
Rane will take on Shiv Sena's Trupti Sawant, whose husband Bala Sawant's death necessitated the bypoll.
During the last year's assembly poll, Sawant had defeated BJP's Mahesh Parkar by 15,000 votes.
Rane, the former Maharashtra chief minister who also served as a Cabinet minister in the Congress-NCP government, had yesterday met Nirupam and said that the by-election is a "good opportunity to give Nirupam a headstart as we will contest under his leadership."
Nirupam said the entire city unit would unitedly work for Rane's victory.
Interestingly, Rane had earlier expressed his displeasure over Nirupam's appointment as he felt a Maharashtrian face was necessary to head the city unit.
Rane had also met NCP chief Sharad Pawar here on Sunday and sought his party's support in the contest.
The bypoll has become a high-profile contest as Rane will take on Sena in the constituency which houses the residence of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
Meanwhile, in Tasgaon-Kavthe Mahankal seat of western Maharashtra, BJP's Swapnil Patil filed nomination as an Independent. The NCP has fielded Suman Patil, the widow of late RR Patil whose death last month necessitated the bypoll.
(With inputs from PTI)