MUMBAI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday decided to field Dr Vikas Mahatme and Vinay Sahastrabuddhe as its candidates for Rajya Sabha elections from Maharashtra to be held on June 11.
The move was surprising as Shyam Jaju and Suresh Prabhu were in the fray so far. Railway minister Prabhu was given the candidature, but from Andhra Pradesh, and Mahatme was accommodated in his place. The party has already announced Union minister Piyush Goyal as its candidate for the polls.
The BJP also declared three more candidates — former MNS leader Pravin Darekar, who joined BJP last year, Sadabhau Khot of ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Vinayak Mete of another ally Shiv Sangram for the biennial elections of 10 legislative council seats to be held on June 10. Here again, Darekar’s name came as a surprise as the names of party spokesperson Madhav Bhandari and corporator Manoj Kotak were in the fray along with Surjitsingh Thakur and former legislators Bal Mane and Pramod Jathar. By far, it has announced four candidates, including Surjitsingh Thakur. The party is yet to announce one more candidate for the council polls.
With strong candidates for the five seats, the party has decided to accommodate smaller allies for three seats — thus Khot and Mete were given the candidature. However, RPI(A) chief Ramdas Athawale is still adamant for a berth in the Union government and thus the BJP is yet to declare its last candidate for the council elections.
Mahatme, an eye surgeon, is the Dhangar face of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls, who is also close to both union minister Nitin Gadkari and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, said a senior BJP functionary. The BJP led government is under tremendous pressure from the Dhangar (shepherd) community for reservation in the state and hence Mahatme’s candidature is expected pacify the community for the time being,” the BJP sources said.
Darekar, once a close confidant of MNS chief Raj Thackeray, was also chosen for his proximity to the chief minister.
He is supposed to help the party in the preparations for the coming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections to be held next year, informed another senior BJP leader.
The last day for filing nominations for the both Rajya Sabha and legislative council elections is May 31. As all the four political parties — BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP have declared as many candidates in the fray, the elections are also likely to be unopposed.
Congress has declared P Chidambaram for Rajya Sabha and Narayan Rane for legislative council polls, NCP has declared Prafull Patel (Rajya Sabha), Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and Dhananjay Munde (legislative council), while Shiv Sena has declared Sanjay Raut (Rajya Sabha), Subhash Desai and Diwakar Raote for legislative council elections.
The requisite votes for winning each RS seat is 48 while for legislative council seats it is 28 votes.