Mumbai: In a setback to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Harshada, wife of late party MLA Ramesh Wanjale today joined NCP and will contest the next month`s bypoll from her husband`s constituency in Pune district.
Harshada, who has been a Congress member in Pune Zilla Parishad, will fight the bypoll, to be held on October 18, from Khadakvasla assembly constituency.
The by-election is necessitated following death of her husband and MNS MLA Ramesh Wanjale in January. Wanjale was elected on MNS ticket from Khadakvasla assembly segment in Baramati Lok Sabha constituency in Pune district in 2009 assembly elections.
Both Congress and NCP, who are alliance partners in the ruling Democratic Front government, vie for the assembly seat with state unit Congress president Manikrao Thakre staking claim for the seat for his party.
NCP, however, ruled out handing over the seat to Congress with its state unit chief Madhukar Pichad observing that the constituency falls under NCP quota. Harshada, who joined NCP in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Pichad at the party office this morning said she was not under pressure from anybody to join the party.
Reacting to the MNS` decision to not field candidate for the bypoll, Pawar said it was its internal matter and "we can only thank them (MNS) for this gesture," he added.
Pawar, who is also the guardian minister of Pune district, criticised MNS chief Raj Thackeray`s comments that NCP has "hijacked" his party`s candidate.
"Such comments are baseless. Thackeray should not speak without proof," Pawar said.
Meanwhile, former Congress MLA from Buldhana constituency Krishna Ingale also crossed over to NCP today.