Realising that they did not have the numbers to defeat the chief minister, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena have decided not to field candidates against Prithviraj Chavan.
Chavan, who seeks to get elected to the Legislative Council, filed his nomination papers on Thursday for the May 4 by-poll.
However, the decision did not stop the Opposition parties from criticising Chavan and the government.
“Rather than fighting a symbolic battle against the head of a government, which has been violating the wishes of the people, we have decided to fight our battle in the people’s court,” senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde said.
Incidentally, the decision not to field candidates also stems from the paucity of numbers that the combined opposition needs to ensure Chavan’s defeat.
However, the Opposition, which has been critical about leaders like Narayan Rane and Ajit Pawar, has decided to go easy on the CM.
The Shiv Sena that had staged a violent protest against Jaitapur power plant — a project pushed by Chavan- has also decided to forego an electoral confrontation.
The Sena indicated that they would extend their support to the chief minister by not pitting any candidate against him.
“The chief minister has to get elected or he will lose his post since. This election is not of much interest to the common man…it is one Chavan replacing the other,” Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said, adding that people had lost trust in the Congress since the chief ministers were mere puppets.
Interestingly, even the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena seems to approve of Chavan.
Party chief Raj Thackeray had spoken to the CM on Thursday.
“Since the new chief minister is doing a decent job, we have decided to support him,” said MNS legislator Bala Nandgaonkar. He said the decision was taken two days ago.
Understandably, the Congress was overjoyed with the decision.
“Such positive perspective will further strengthen the rich progressive tradition of our state,” Congress spokesperson Sanjay Dutt said.
Meanwhile, Opposition members said they were more interested in targeting members like Rane and Pawar.