Vinod Tawde, Eknath Khadse missing in BJP’s penultimate list

Son shine: Shiv Sena candidate Aaditya Thackeray on way to file his nomination in Worli on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday released its third list of candidates for the October 21 elections to the Maharashtra Assembly. The names of Education Minister Vinod Tawde and former Ministers Prakash Mehta and Eknath Khadse were conspicuous by their absence in the list.

The party named Kashiram Pawara, Mallikarjun Reddy, Parinay Phuke and Ramesh Singh Thakur as its candidates from Shirpur, Ramtek, Sakoli and Malad West respectively. With this, the BJP has announced candidates for 143 seats. With less than 24 hours to go for the filing of nominations to end, 95 of these candidates had filed their papers till Thursday evening.

As many as 15 nominations were filed on Thursday, including by BJP State president Chandrakant Patil. The party is still expected to announce candidates for at least three more seats. “We are expecting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and housing minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil to file nominations by tomorrow,” said senior party spokesperson Madhav Bhandari.

Among senior leaders and ministers who filed nominations on Thursday were Pankaja Munde, Girish Mahajan, Vijaykumar Gavit, Subhash Deshmukh, Jaikumar Rawal, Sanjay Kute and Ravindra Chavan. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar hinted at the possibility of some of the excluded BJP leaders joining the Opposition’s ranks.

The NCP chief said he had been in touch with Mr. Khadse in the past three months, a charge the latter rejected. “I am still with the party and asking my supporters to maintain calm,” asserted the former Finance Minister. “The party will take an appropriate decision in the times to come,” Mr. Khadse added. Party leaders said Mr. Khadse remained an integral part of the BJP. “He has himself said he is not leaving the party,” clarified Mr. Bhandari.

Party officials said once the final list of candidates was announced, the BJP would invite senior leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for campaigning. Mr. Modi is expected to hold as many as eight rallies including at least one in Mumbai, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In its first list, the BJP named 90 sitting MLAs, while dropping 12. Mr. Khadse and Mr. Mehta are among the high profile leaders whose names are missing. Both former ministers faced charges of corruption. Other notable names missing include Mr. Tawde, Kalyan MLA Narendra Pawar, Kothrud MLA Medha Kulkarni and Mulund MLA Sardar Tara Singh.

Congress, NCP name candidates

Meanwhile, the Congress and NCP finalised names of 37 and 20 candidates on Thursday. Ashish Deshmukh, a former BJP MLA now with the Congress, will take on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Nagpur South West constituency. The party has also changed candidates for Nandurbar (ST) and Sillod in Aurangabad.

Mr. Deshmukh, son of former senior Congress leader Ranjeet Deshmukh, had contested as BJP candidate from Katol in 2014 and defeated his uncle Anil Deshmukh (NCP). He, however, resigned before the Lok Sabha polls and joined Congress.

With this the NCP has announced 97 candidates, and the Congress 140. Both had agreed to contest 125 seats each.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 9:07:49 PM |

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