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Congress-NCP face-off for Council bypoll

Even as discussions on seat sharing for Assembly elections are yet to conclude, Congress and NCP, the coalition partners in the Maharashtra government, on Monday nominated their own candidates for the Legislative Council by-election scheduled on August 21.

The by-poll has been necessitated due to the resignation of sitting Shiv Sena MLC Vinayak Raut after his win from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Lok Sabha seat in May this year.

With Sena not putting up a candidate, it will be NCP state president Sunil Tatkare pitted against Mohan Joshi of Congress.

Out of the 288 elected MLAs and one nominated member in the state Assembly, 277 MLAs are eligible to vote because of vacancies after some of them won the LS elections. The Legislative Assembly is the Electoral College for the by-election.

The scrutiny of papers will be held on Tuesday and August 14 is the last date for withdrawal of nomination.

Joshi is a former MLC from the Governor’s quota, whose tenure ended in March this year.

He filed his nomination papers in the presence of Mumbai Congress unit Chief Janardan Chandurkar, senior ministers and legislators from Mumbai.

Chandurkar expressed confidence that Joshi would be elected to the Council. “Congress is the largest party in the Assembly. We hope all parties will support us,” he said when asked about possibility of NCP also fielding a candidate.

Tatkare, who is currently an MLA from Roha in Raigad district, said he filed his nomination papers on the instructions of his party leadership.

“Let’s wait till August 14 to see who remains in the fray and whether the election will be unopposed,” he said.

According to Tatkare, “if a state president is the candidate on instructions from the national president, some discussion might have taken place at the highest level.”

To a query on who would withdraw from the fray, he said, “Any decision on his candidature for the by-election would be taken at the party level.”

Tatkare denied that the fielding of candidate by NCP was to pressurise the Congress in the seat-sharing talks for the Assembly elections due in October.

“Our pre-poll alliance has already been decided. In the next four days, we will meet to discuss the seat adjustments,” he said.

Meanwhile, a senior NCP leader said the decision to field Tatkare for the Upper House was taken to allow him to campaign all over the state in the Assembly elections.

“Congress is likely to withdraw in Tatkare’s favour and a decision in this regard will be taken before the last date of withdrawal,” he said.

Out of the 288 elected MLAs and one nominated member in the state Assembly, 277 MLAs are eligible to vote (for the Council bypoll).

Seven MLAs had resigned after winning the Lok Sabha elections.

NCP’s Deepak Kesarkar and NCP-supported Independent MLA Laxman Jagtap had also resigned as MLAs.

Tatkare also resigned today before filing his nomination.

Besides, Baban Gholap of Shiv Sena and Suresh Halvankar of BJP have been disqualified as members of the Assembly due to conviction in courts.

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