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Shiv Sena fields Sanjay Pawar for sixth Rajya Sabha seat from Maharashtra

After Kolhapur royal Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati declined the Shiv Sena’s offer to join the party and contest as a Rajya Sabha candidate, the Sena on May 24 said it was fielding its Kolhapur district president Sanjay Pawar as the candidate for the sixth Upper House seat from Maharashtra.

Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had taken the decision to give Mr. Pawar a chance and that a formal announcement would be made soon.

“Sanjay Pawar’s name has been finalised by CM Uddhav Thackeray and will be officially announced soon… He [Mr. Pawar] is a loyal Mavla [alluding to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s soldiers] and the CM has taken the decision to field him,” Mr. Raut said.

Of the 57 RS seats across India going to polls on June 10, six are from Maharashtra. Going by the respective numerical strength of the major parties in the State, the Opposition BJP, which is numerically the single-largest party (with 106 seats) is set to get two seats, while the three Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition parties — the Shiv Sena (56 seats), the NCP (53 seats) and the Congress party (44 seats seats) — are set to get one seat each. 

Mr. Sambhajiraje, an influential Maratha community leader and a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji, had earlier this month spelled out his decision to contest the RS election as an independent after his term as a President-nominated Rajya Sabha member ended. He had appealed to all parties to back him, with NCP chief Sharad Pawar being the first to announce his support for the Kolhapur royal.

However, the Shiv Sena — the NCP’s ally — soon staked claim for the sixth seat, thus undercutting Mr. Sambhajiraje’s chances. While Mr. Sambhajiraje later held parleys with Mr. Thackeray and expressed confidence that the CM would support him, he remained adamant on contesting as an independent while the Sena remained firm that the royal had to contest as a Sena candidate.

The NCP later said it would support whichever candidate, be it Mr. Sambhajiraje or anyone else, selected by the Sena as a quid pro quo, given that the Sena had similarly helped the NCP in a previous election.

Accordingly, the Shiv Sena had proposed that Mr. Sambhajiraje formally join their party, an offer he turned down.

When questioned on this, Mr. Raut said that while the Shiv Sena had duly respected the Chhatrapati’s throne in their offer to Mr. Sambhajiraje, the candidate would have to be from the Sena.

The Kolhapur royal was sent to the Rajya Sabha in 2016 with the help of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Despite this, Mr. Sambhajiraje has been reportedly miffed with the saffron party after Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not give him a sympathetic audience on the Maratha quota issue. 

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2022 3:47:36 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/shiv-sena-fields-sanjay-pawar-for-sixth-rajya-sabha-seat-from-maharashtra/article65457266.ece