NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: After protracted negotiations, the BJP on Tuesday unveiled its first list of 125 candidates for the Maharashtra Assembly elections. The BJP, along with smaller allies, will field candidates on 164 seats, leaving aside 124 constituencies for Shiv Sena.
The BJP dropped a dozen sitting MLAs, while giving nominations to 11 party hoppers in the first list of candidates.
In line with the BJP strategy to drop sitting MLAs on the basis of internal surveys, a few big names in Maharashtra politics, including Eknath Khadse, Vinod Tawde, Prakash Mehta, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, failed to bag renominations.
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Party leaders said there were issues concerning non-performance. Khadse, once a No. 2 in the Maharashtra Cabinet, defied the party and filed nomination papers from Muktainagar.
On a day the BJP announced that Devendra Fadnavis will seek a consecutive fifth term, the Maharashtra CM faced a setback as the apex court revived a complaint against him over not disclosing two criminal cases pending against him in his 2014 affidavit.
Maharashtra BJP accommodates party hoppers in its first poll list
BJP national general secretary Arun Singh released the list of 125 candidates at the party headquarters. “The state unit BJP chief Chandrakant Patil will contest from Kothrud constituency,” he said.
The BJP has accommodated party hoppers in its first list, fielding five former Congress leaders, four ex-functionaries of the NCP and two Independents.
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Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, the Congress heavyweight who was the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly before joining the BJP earlier this year, bagged the nomination from the Shirdi Assembly seat.
The BJP has also fielded Shivendra Singh Bhonsle, a scion of the Shivaji family, from Satara and given a ticket to Mukta Tilak, who hails from Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s family.
The saffron party-list also featured 75-year-old Haribhau Bagde, who was the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly. He is the sole exception to the party’s 75-year age ceiling for contesting elections.
The BJP would also be giving a few Assembly seats to smaller allies, including RSP, RPI (Athawale), Shiv Sangram and Raiyat party.
The BJP, incidentally, had contested the 2014 Assembly polls on its own and won 122 Assembly seats in a House of 288. Shiv Sena had won 63 seats. The two outfits came together after the elections to share power in the state.