Mumbai: BJP on Monday announced support for an Independent candidate who is pitted against its senior leader Gopinath Munde`s estranged nephew Dhananjay, in the September 2 bypoll to Maharashtra Legislative Council.
Dhananjay is the nominee of the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.
The bypoll is being held to fill the vacancy caused by his resignation as BJP MLC elected by members of the Legislative Assembly.
Dhananjay resigned as a member of the Upper House on July 2 and joined NCP, which is part of the Congress-led ruling coalition in the state.
His term of office would have, in the normal course, ended on July 7, 2016.
The last date of filing nominations was August 23 and the last date for withdrawal was today.
On the last day of filing nomination papers, BJP had fielded its former Aurangabad city unit president Basavraj Mangrule and former Samajwadi Party worker, Shriprakash Shukla, as its official candidates.
However, the two today withdrew from the fray and were present at a media briefing by Gopinath Munde later. NCP candidate Sanjay Khodke has also withdrawn from the fray.
Munde told reporters that the party has decided to back the candidature of Prithviraj Sambhaji Kakade who has filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate. Kakde is son of Sambhaji Kakde, a relative of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
The electorate for this constituency comprises 288 MLAs of the Lower House. Going by the numbers game and given the party-wise strength in the legislative Assembly, it is expected that Dhananjay Munde will get re-elected with a comfortable majority.
Congress has 82 MLAs, NCP has 62, BJP 46, Shiv Sena 44, MNS 13 while small parties and independents make up 39 members.
When pointed out that Dhananjay had almost 70 votes more than Kakde, Gopinath Munde said, "We feel that legislators would vote not on party lines but as per their conscience."