The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will field Dr Vikas Mahatme and Vinay Sahastrabuddhe as its candidates from Maharashtra for Rajya Sabha elections to be held on June 11.
The official party choices announced on Monday came as a surprise as Shyam Jaju and Suresh Prabhu were also in the fray. Railway minister Prabhu was also given candidacy 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.
Three candidates — former MNS leader Pravin Darekar, who joined the BJP last year; Sadabhau Khot of ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana; and Vinayak Mete of Shiv Sangram — were also named for the biennial elections for 10 legislative council seats to be held on June 10.
Here again, Darekar’s name came as a surprise as party spokesperson Madhav Bhandari and corporator Manoj Kotak were in the fray along with Surjitsingh Thakur and former legislators Bal Mane and Pramod Jathar. So far, four candidates, including Surjitsingh Thakur, have been chosen. The name of one candidate remains to be announced for the council polls.
With strong candidates for the five seats, the party decided to accommodate smaller allies on 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.
Mahatme, an eye surgeon and the Dhangar face of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls, is considered 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 Mahatme’s candidature is expected pacify the community for the time being,” a party source 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 BJP prepare for the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections to be held next year, informed a senior BJP leader.
The last day for filing nominations for both Rajya Sabha and legislative council elections is May 31. As all four political parties — the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP have declared as many candidates as there are seats, their elections are likely to be unopposed.
Congress named P Chidambaram for Rajya Sabha and Narayan Rane for legislative council polls, NCP declared Praful Patel (Rajya Sabha), Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and Dhananjay Munde (legislative council), and Shiv Sena chose Sanjay Raut for Rajya Sabha, and Subhash Desai and Diwakar Raote for legislative council elections.
The requisite votes for winning a Rajya Sabha seat is 48, while it is 28 votes for a seat on the legislative council.