Maharashtra council bypoll bone of contention between Congress, NCP

The by-election for the lone Maharashtra legislative council seat has become a serious bone of contention between Congress and NCP.

Mumbai: The by-election for the lone Maharashtra legislative council seat has become a serious bone of contention between Congress and NCP with the latter on Tuesday blaming Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for lack of communication which led to both fielding their nominees.

Mohan Joshi of Congress and state NCP chief Sunil Tatkare are in the fray for the August 21 by-poll which was necessitated following Shiv Sena`s Vinayak Raut`s election to the Lok Sabha.

Nominations of both candidates were found valid during scrutiny today.

NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said such a situation could have been avoided had Chavan convened a co-ordination committee meeting to discuss the election strategy.
"Congress` state president Manikrao Thakare is a member of the legislative council and we too want our state chief Sunil Tatkare to be in the Upper House so he can devote time to the campaign for the assembly elections," Malik said, adding "it was the responsibility of the Chief Minister to evolve a consensus."

He, however, hoped the issue would be resolved through discussions before August 14, the last date of withdrawal.

Malik rejected the charge that NCP had fielded Tatkare in order to put pressure on Congress to give it more seats during the assembly elections. "Where is the question of pressure when both parties have already decided on a pre-poll alliance?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Congress sources claimed the Chief Minister had already intimated NCP leaders on Sunday that his will field its candidate for the by-poll.
"Congress helped NCP in getting elected Kiran Pawaskar and Dhananjay Munde, who came from Shiv Sena and BJP respectively, in council by-polls. In by-election to Rajya Sabha, Congress backed NCP`s Praful Patel. Some years ago, when Avinash Pande of Congress filed his papers for Rajya Sabha, NCP put up industrialist Rahul Bajaj as an independent candidate and got support of Sena-BJP as well. Pande had to withdraw," a Congress leader said.

Senior leaders and office bearers of Congress are in favour of the party contesting council by-election.

"If Congress withdraws its candidate, the morale of party workers, already low after Lok Sabha defeat, will be hurt," he said.

Meanwhile, Congress sources said Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is slated to meet Chavan for discussions on the matter tonight.

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