Two days before the deadline for the withdrawal of nominations, a Maharashtra minister said the BJP was keen to ensure unopposed election to six seats from the state, as seven candidates are in fray for the March 23 polls. “The party is of the view that Rajya Sabha elections should be (held) unopposed. We have apprised leaders of other parties about our wish,” state parliamentary affairs minister Girish Bapat said.
The BJP, which is sure of getting three candidates elected in the ensuing poll, has fielded four nominees. Former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane and senior journalist Kumar Ketkar were among the four candidates who on Monday filed their nominations for the biennial elections. The election for the six seats was expected to be unopposed, but the BJP fielded Maharashtra State Commission for Women chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar, taking up the number of candidates in fray to seven. March 15 is the deadline for withdrawal of papers, a Vidhan Bhawan official said. Union minister Prakash Javadekar and sitting Rajya Sabha members Anil Desai (Shiv Sena) and Vandana Chavan (NCP) filed their papers last week. The ruling BJP is set to increase its tally from Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha and also in the state Legislative Council, given its improved strength in the 288-member Legislative Assembly post the 2014 polls. At present, the opposition Congress and the NCP hold two seats each, while the Shiv Sena and the BJP have a piece each of these six seats of the Upper House of Parliament. The BJP, with its tally of 122 in the Assembly, is poised to get three Rajya Sabha seats now, while the Sena, Congress and NCP will get one each.