PUNE: NCP and Congress on Friday announced support for the MNS candidate in Kothrud constituency in Pune city against state BJP president Chandrakant Patil for the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections.
Patil, who hails from Kolhapur, was fielded from Kothrud, a stronghold of saffron parties, by sidelining sitting BJP MLA Medha Kulkarni. Posters had come up in Kothrud opposing the "outsider" candidate after the BJP made the surprise announcement.
Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Ankush Kakade said on Friday that the NCP and Congress decided to support MNS candidate Kishor Shinde to avoid division of votes against Patil. "The Kothrud seat has been traditionally contested by the NCP. During the seat-sharing talks we had offered to give it to our ally Swabhimani Shetkari Paksha. In the meantime, Patil was fielded from here, so we (the NCP and Congress) thought why divide the strength of NCP, Congress and MNS by fielding another candidate," Kakade said.
Shinde had contested from Kothrud on MNS ticket in 2009 and 2014, losing both times. However, in 2009, though he lost to Shiv Sena's Chandrakant Mokate, he had put up a tough fight, Kakade said. "The decision to support the MNS in Kothrud was taken at the local level by the NCP and Congress," he added.
The two parties have not formed alliance with the Raj Thackeray-led party at the state level. Abhay Chhajed, a senior Congress leader from the city, said in view of the sentiment against Patil, it was important to give the voters a strong alternative.
Shinde filed his nomination papers on Friday amid a massive show of strength. After filing his papers, he thanked NCP and Congress for supporting him.