After facing an embarrassing defeat by the Shiv Sena in his citadel at Konkan in the assembly elections last year, former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane is gearing up for a new fight.
Sena’s bête noire seems to have made up his mind to contest the by-election for Vandre (Bandra) East Assembly constituency necessitated by the death of the sitting MLA Prakash Sawant. Rane told the media on Saturday that he had made the decision and conveyed it to state Congress president Ashok Chavan.
The Sena has fielded Sawant’s wife, Trupti, to contest the by-election to be held on April 11.
“I am prepared to take on the Sena in the by-elections. The official announcement from my party will come soon. This seat is not a traditional Sena seat and has had a sizeable Congress voter, which I will win back," said Rane, adding that would request the NCP not to field a candidate against him.
State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the decision on Rane’s candidature will be taken by party leadership.
However, the sources within the party said Rane is likely to be fielded as he was a strong candidate and may win the seat for the party.
Rane suffered a serious setback in his political career, when he lost the assembly seat in Konkan to Sena's Vaibhav Naik. He had even blamed former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for the party’s loss in the Lok Sabha as well as Assembly elections.
If Congress fields Rane, then the by-election will turn out to be a direct challenge to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. The duo does not see eye-to-eye since Rane quit the party in 2005, accusing Uddhav of hatching a conspiracy to sideline him.