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Avinash Pandey Cong nominee for RS by-poll

Congress declared it would enter the fray and announced PCC General Secretary Avinash Pandey for Maharashtra by-poll.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 10:36 IST

Noted industrialist Rahul Bajaj's candidature for the June 15 Rajya Sabha by-election has led to fissure in the Congress-NCP coalition with Congress on Monday announcing fielding of PCC General Secretary Avinash Pandey as its nominee.

Bajaj's candidature has come as a surprise for the Congress as it is backed by Opposition BJP-Shiv Sena as also by the Sharad Pawar-led NCP which had earlier declared it would not support a Congress nominee and accused it sabotaging the recent Legislative Council election leading to defeat of one NCP candidate.

Caught in a catch 22 situation, Congress announced the nomination of Pandey, who will be filing nominations later in the day, despite knowing that he would not have a ghost of a chance if the BJP-Shiv Sena and NCP backed Bajaj in the RS polls due to the death of BJP leader Pramod Mahajan.

Announcement of Pandey's candidature comes apparently after efforts to persuade Pawar to support the Congress failed.

NCP has been off-and-on accusing that Congress has not been giving a fair deal to its allies.

Bajaj is a close friend of Pawar and has a good rapport with leaders of the BJP as also Shiv Sena.

The development has come close on the heels of the Legislative Council elections, which saw strained relations between Congress and the NCP as all the four Congress candidates got elected.

The move also come in the wake of reports that Rau, who is not on the best of terms with Pawar, was the front-runner for the Rajya Sabha nomination.

This is for the second time in recent years that the NCP as also the Opposition BJP-Shiv Sena have come together in a RS by-elections against the Congress.

Four years back the three parties had fielded the then Maharashtra Governor PC Alexander as an independent candidate.

The BJP's central election committee is meeting in Delhi on Monday to endorse support to Bajaj's candidature.

First Published: Jun 05, 2006 10:30 IST