The Shiv Sena on Wednesday formally announced the candidature of Kolhapur District party President and hard-core grassroots Sainik Sanjay Pawar as its nominee for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.
The decision, taken on Tuesday by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, was officially sealed on Wednesday, said Sena’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut.
“Sanjay Pawar and myself shall file our nominations for the June 10 polls tomorrow (Thursday). Present at the filing of nominations shall be CM Thackeray and top leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress,” he added.
With this, the Sena has decided to opt for a loyal son-of-the-soil of Kolhapur vis-a-vis a royal Yuvraj Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje of the Kolhapur throne, who had sought the party’s help in his bid as an independent.
Sambhajiraje or his disappointed supporters have not reacted to the latest development and he is likely to take a final call on going solo for the RS polls in a day or so.
“This 6th seat belongs to the Sena. We had made an offer to support Sambhajiraje for the Sena seat. We will not support any independent candidate, but there was no response,” Raut told media persons after meeting the CM.
Reacting guardedly to the developments, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the manner in which the entire episode unfolded, he suspected a bid by the MVA to “trap” the Chhatrapati.
To question, Raut said the BJP’s “horse-trading” machinations will not succeed as the MVA has more strength than required to get all their 4 RS nominees elected comfortably. A contestant requires 42 votes to be elected for the RS.
The RS elections will fill up the vacancies by six retiring members — one each from ruling parties – Shiv Sena (Raut), NCP (Praful Patel) and Congress (P. Chidambaram), and three from the Bharatiya Janata Party – Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Piyush Goyal, and Dr. Vikas Mahatme.
This time, given the re-alignment of the legislature after the 2019 Assembly elections, the BJP can win only two of the three seats it holds, the MVA can win their three seats, and will now contest the third seat held by the BJP.
The electoral college comprises the 288 MLAs and a candidate must get 42 votes to win a seat in the Upper House of Parliament.
The MVA has 170 MLAs – Shiv Sena 55 (one MLA Ramesh Latke, died in Dubai last week), NCP 53, Congress 44, smaller parties/groups 10 and 8 Independents.
On the Opposition side, BJP has 106 with other smaller parties/groups 2 and 5 Independents.
A hopeful Sambhajiraje had explained that since the BJP can get only 2 seats, and the Sena-NCP-Congress one each, he would contest that ‘extra’ sixth seat solo with the support of various major and smaller parties.