Two former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan and state party chief Balasaheb Thorat are among senior Congress leaders whose names have been cleared as candidates by the party’s poll panel for the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra.
According to Congress sources, the screening committee tasked with shortlisting the candidates has so far cleared 104 names. Out of the 288 seats in the state, the Congress and the NCP are contesting 125 each leaving 40 for smaller parties, including the Samajwadi Party, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana of Raju Shetti and the Communist Party of India (CPI).
Congress leaders have also ruled out any tie-up with the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), saying its chief Prakash Ambedkar has made an “unacceptable and unreasonable” demand seeking the termination of the party’s long-standing alliance with the NCP.
The ruling alliance of the BJP and the Shiv Sena are yet to firm up their seat-sharing arrangement. Apart from two former chief ministers and Thorat, the names of Congress legislative party (CLP) leader KC Padavi and leader of opposition Vijay Namdevrao Wadettiwar have also been approved.
However, many senior leaders including Sushil Kumar Shinde, Milind Deora, Sanjay Nirupam and Nana Patole may not be considered for the assembly elections. Both the Congress and the NCP have been hit by desertions with senior leaders from both the parties defecting to the ruling BJP and the Shiv Sena in the run-up to the elections.
Last week, NCP’s Lok Sabha member from Satara Udyanraje Bhosale, a descendant of Maratha warrior king Shivaji, and senior Congress leader and former state minister Harshvardhan Patil joined the BJP.