Setback to Mahayuti as NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal refuses to contest Lok Sabha election

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Bhujbal said he was grateful to PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah who were keen to field him.
NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal (File photo | PTI)
NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal (File photo | PTI)

In a setback to the Mahayuti in Maharashtra, NCP minister Chhagan Bhujal has refused to contest the Lok Sabha election from Nashik. However, he said he will campaign for any NDA candidate in the constituency.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Bhujbal said, “I am grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah who offered me the Nashik Lok Sabha seat to contest. Both were keen to field me, but I decided not to contest the election.”

The Nashik Lok Sabha seat is represented by Hemant Godse of Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena faction. “Shinde wanted to re-field Godse. However, the BJP leadership was not keen to nominate Godse because of a negative survey report. Then, it was decided that the seat should be given to the NCP and Chhagan Bhujbal should contest it. However, Bhujbal was keen to field his nephew Sameer Bhujbal, but the top leadership of the BJP wanted the senior Bhujbal to contest so that they can win this tough seat,” said a senior leader requesting anonymity.

NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal (File photo | PTI)
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“If Bhujbal loses this election in Nasik, then it will end his political career permanently. Besides, the dominant Maratha community is against him because of his controversial statements and that can damage his prospects. Moreover, the public mood is not positive therefore Bhujbal turned down the proposal by the top leadership of the BJP,” said a person privy to the development.

Bhujbal said the Maha Vikas Aghadi candidate has already started the campaign while the Mahayuti is yet to finalise the candidate. “I was keen to contest, but it’s too late now. If the delay is continued, then it will damage the prospect of the Mahayuti candidate in the elections. Therefore, seat sharing and candidate announcement should happen early,” Bhujbal added.

A BJP leader said the party leadership offered the seat to its own leaders but has not found a candidate yet. “There used to be big fights for the BJP ticket in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In this election, no one is sure whether they will win or lose. It’s very difficult to gauge the public mood because this is a wave-less election fought on local issues,” he added, requesting anonymity.

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