BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Oct 4 (IANS) On the final day of filing of nominations on Friday, several big shots, including sitting and former ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), got a big shock after they failed to get a ticket for contesting the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections.
In the fourth list released, Education Minister Vinod Tawade, Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Raj Purohit, who was accorded a minister-status, find no mention.
Besides, two former ministers — the once de facto No. 2 Eknath Khadse and senior leader Prakash Mehta — have also been denied nomination.
Interestingly, three of them — Tawade, Purohit and Mehta — have also served as former presidents of the power Mumbai BJP unit.
Not taking it lying down, Mehta is likely to file nomination as an independent pitted against the BJP’s official candidate Parag Shah for Ghatkopar East assembly segment.
But his supporters expressed their anger by attacking Shah’s car as he went to file his nomination papers today (Friday), and Mehta was trying to pacify them.
Khadse, who was virtually standing at the doorstep of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has apparently been mollified and backtracked after his daughter Rohini Khadse was named for the Muktainagar constituency.
He welcomed what he termed as the “belated” nomination to his daughter, plus assured that he would abide by any decision of the party and work for the victory of its candidates with his 40 years of political experience behind him.
Despite Tawade doing the rounds of the party office hopefully, his seat of Borivali has been given to Sunil Rane while Rahul Narvekar has ejected Purohit — a former minister, from Colaba constituency.
Amid speculation that Bawankule would be shifted from his stronghold of Kamptee (Nagpur) to another seat, the party has relented at the last minute and given a ticket to his wife Jyoti as the clock ticks away for the 3 p.m. deadline to file nominations.
Causing raised eyebrows even in the ally Shiv Sena ranks, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ Personal Assistant Abhimanyu Pawar secured a nomination from Ausa (Latur).
Former Chief Minister Narayan Rane’s son Nitesh Rane managed to book a nomination even before joining the BJP and was due to file his poll papers today from Kankavali.
On the other hand, outgoing Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade – who shot to limelight last week when he quietly accepted the resignation of former NCP Dy.CM Ajit Pawar – has bagged a ticket from Phulambri (Aurangabad) though he has crossed the alaxman-rekha’ of 75 years age implemented by the BJP.
Tawade, Purohit, Khadse, Mehta were named in one or the other scams/irregularities, while Bawankule fell foul of the party top brass over handling of his sensitive energy portfolio.
The BJP also has to contend with possible rebellious activities of around a dozen defectors from various parties, mostly the Congress-NCP, who were waiting in the wings for the ticket but have been denied it.
In some areas like Pune, ally Shiv Sena activists have threatened to boycott campaigning for BJP candidates as the former (Sena) has been denied a single seat of the eight in the region.
The final permutations and combinations, including rebels, turncoats and other aspect is expected to be known only by Monday (Oct. 7), the last date for withdrawal of candidatures.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)