Union Minister for Science and Technology Vilasrao Deshmukh, Minister of State for Parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla and four others were elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra on Thursday, last date for withdrawal of nominations. Pune builder Sanjay Kakde had filed his papers as Independent but on Tuesday he withdrew his nomination at a press conference, as requested by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, paving the way for the election of two Nationalist Congress Party candidates.
The NCP fielded three candidates — party general secretary D.P. Tripathi, the former Pune Mayor Vandana Chavan and Prakash Binsale. As Mr. Binsale withdrew his nomination, there was no need for an election, in keeping with the tradition in the State for a decade. Among those elected are Ms. Chavan, Mr. Tripathi, Anil Desai from the Shiv Sena and Ajaykumar Sancheti from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Mr. Kakde said he had no intention of going against anyone, let alone Mr. Pawar. “I called Mr. Pawar and said I don't want to send a wrong message by contesting. He has not given me any assurance in return,” Mr. Kakde said, adding he was under no pressure to withdraw his nomination.
NCP sources, however, said Mr. Kakde had insisted on being nominated on the party ticket but when he did not get it, rallied the support of independents and some MLAs. Had he been in the race, the chances of the NCP, which could win two seats, would have been dented. But Mr. Pawar ensured that he did not contest.