Sharad Pawar’s NCP names its candidates for Beed and Bhiwandi

The party has fielded Bajrang Sonwane, who recently defected from Ajit Pawar’s NCP faction, in crucial Beed seat, where he will be pitted against BJP’s Pankaja Munde, while Suresh Mhatre will contest Bhiwandi seat

Updated - April 05, 2024 06:52 am IST

Published - April 05, 2024 05:20 am IST - Pune

NCP-SP chief Sharad Pawar.

NCP-SP chief Sharad Pawar. | Photo Credit: ANI

The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party NCP (SP) released the names of candidates for the Beed and Bhiwandi Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra on April 2.

The party has fielded Bajrang Sonwane — who recently defected from Ajit Pawar’s NCP faction — in the crucial Beed seat, where he will be pitted against the BJP’s Pankaja Munde, while Suresh Mhatre will contest the Bhiwandi seat.

For a while, there was speculation that Mr. Sharad Pawar could field Jyoti Mete, wife of the late Shiv Sangram leader Vinayak Mete, an ardent Maratha quota supporter who died in a road accident in 2022. Ms. Mete met Pawar senior.

Mr. Pawar took his nephew Ajit Pawar by surprise after he engineered Mr. Bajrang Sonawane defection.

Mr. Sonawane polled more than 5 lakh votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha election but was defeated by Pritam Munde – Pankaja’s sister and sitting Beed MP, who was dropped by the BJP.

Mr. Sonawane’s presence has boosted the chances of Sharad Pawar’s camp in Beed.

Before poaching Mr. Sonawane, Mr. Pawar also engineered the defection of sitting MLA Nilesh Lanke from Ajit Pawar’s NCP camp.

Mr. Lanke has been given the ticket to the Ahmednagar seat. Till date, the NCP (SP) has announced its candidates for seven Lok Sabha seats including Supriya Sule (Baramati), Amol Kale (Wardha), Bhaskar Bhagare (Dindori), and Dr. Amol Kolhe (Shirur).

The NCP (SP)‘s allies in the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition — Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT) and the Congress – have announced candidates for 21 and 12 seats respectively. This leaves eight more seats (of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra) for which candidates have to be named.

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