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2019 Lok Sabha polls: After Pawar, NCP’s Praful Patel opts out of poll race

Being a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP), Patil still has three years of his tenure remaining in the Upper House.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Mar 19, 2019 08:37 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Praful Patel
Praful Patel (Hindustan Times)
         

 

After Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, another senior party leader, Praful Patel, has on Monday decided not to contest next month’s Lok Sabha elections.

Being a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP), Patil still has three years of his tenure remaining in the Upper House.

According to NCP insiders, Vijay Shivankar, who is the son of former BJP minister Mahadev Shivankar, is now the front runner in the race for NCP ticket from Bhandara-Gondia constituency, followed by Madhukar Kukde, who is the sitting Member of Parliament (MP) from the seat.

“I would have contested the general elections, but decided not to as I have three years left as Rajya Sabha MP. It is also difficult to get someone re-elected to the seat as our strength (in the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha) has reduced,” Patel said, clarifying his stance.

The seven-time MP lost the polls in 2014 against BJP’s Nana Patole. Patole, however left the BJP, to join the Congress, after which by-polls were held in the constituency. The NCP managed to win the seat back in the by- polls.

Following his decision of not contesting, the party is now deliberating on a few names suggested by him.

“Vijay Shivankar could be the next NCP candidate from the constituency. He is close to Patel and has a strong presence in the constituency,” said a senior NCP leader, who did not want to be named.

Shivankar would have contested last May’s by-polls, but as a senior leader, Madhukar Kukde, 67, was given a chance over him, he added. Kukde defeated BJP’s Hemant Patle by over 48,000 votes but got a tenure of only nine months.

Both Shivankar and Kukde come from the same community — Kunbi — that has a significant presence in the constituency. Shivankar was also Gondia Zilla Parishad president from BJP in 2013-18 before joining NCP.

“There are few names and of them, we have to decide who will be our candidate from the constituency. The list comprises both Shivankar and Kukde. The decision is likely to be announced by March 22,” said Patel.

First Published: Mar 19, 2019 00:11 IST

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