Opposition considers heavyweights against BJP in Satara bypoll

Udayanraje Bhosale, Chhatrapati Shivaji’s 13th descendant, resigned as an MP, after winning the constituency three times on an NCP ticket and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party last week. The bypolls were announced on Tuesday.
The names of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan are doing the rounds as the Opposition parties look for a strong candidate for the Satara Lok Sabha bypolls to be held on October 21.(REUTERS)
The names of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan are doing the rounds as the Opposition parties look for a strong candidate for the Satara Lok Sabha bypolls to be held on October 21.(REUTERS)
Updated on Sep 26, 2019 04:18 AM IST
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Mumbai | BySurendra P Gangan and Faisal Malik, Mumbai

The names of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan are doing the rounds as the Opposition parties look for a strong candidate for the Satara Lok Sabha bypolls to be held on October 21.

Udayanraje Bhosale, Chhatrapati Shivaji’s 13th descendant, resigned as an MP, after winning the constituency three times on an NCP ticket and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party last week. The bypolls were announced on Tuesday.

The Congress and NCP who are contesting the Assembly polls jointly have started to look at names in a bid to retain the seat, which they have been winning for six decades, barring only two (1957 and 1996) defeats since independence. Under the seat-sharing pact between the two parties, the NCP has been contesting seat since 1999. The party has believably conceded to spare the seat, if Chavan contests.

The Congress is likely to discuss the candidature during its top-level meeting in Delhi on Thursday. Pawar has reportedly spoken to interim chief of Congress Sonia Gandhi requesting her to field Chavan. She is expected to discuss the issue with party leaders. Chavan is not willing to contest the bypoll and wants to be in the fray for the Assembly polls from Karad South. Former Sikkim governor and former MP Shrinivas Patil is being considered by the NCP, but he is not keen due to health reasons.

A section in the NCP and Congress also want Pawar to contest the bypoll against Bhosale. Bhosale had said on Tuesday that he would not be in the fray if Pawar contests. Both the opposition parties feel the NCP could retain the seat if Pawar contests, but key leaders from the NCP are against the idea, as in such a case the party chief will be restricted to Satara.

Leaders from both the parties do not believe that Bhosale will stick to his word.

“I have already made it clear that I am interested in contesting from Karad South constituency I represented in the Assembly. I have not been conveyed anything about the bypoll by my party leadership. We are meeting in Delhi on Thursday and this is expected to be discussed,” Chavan told HT.

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