The knives are out even before the seat sharing issue between the ruling allies, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, for the assembly elections has been resolved. The two have pitched their candidates against each other in the state legislative council polls scheduled for October 21.
Who's taking on whom?
It's Sunil Tatkare vs. Mohan Joshi. Tatkare is the NCP state president and Mohan Joshi is a Congress leader from Pune.
What necessitated the election?
Vinayak Raut of Shiv Sena, who was a Member of Legislative Council (MLC) resigned after being elected to Lok Sabha from Konkan. The election was called to fill up the post.
Are Sena, BJP fighting this poll?
No. The two parties have decided not to field any candidate.
NCP not to withdraw candidate
Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson, told dna his party would not withdraw the nomination of Tatkare. "He is our state president and we want him free during the state polls rather than being forced to stick to his own constituency. Actually, if Tatkare wins, it'll help both the parties because he will be campaign for both during the assembly polls. Congress should therefore withdraw its candidate. A decision on this should have been taken at the coordination committee meeting chaired by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. We are ready to fight even if Congress refuses to withdraw its candidate," Malik said.
What is the Congress stand?
Sachin Sawant, Congress spokesperson, told dna that his party too would not withdraw its candidate. "We have not fielded our candidate to withdraw later. It's actually our 'seat'; NCP should help in getting our man elected. We have supported them in earlier council polls. However, we hope to resolve the issue amicably in the next couple of days," said Sawant.
What the Congress feels
For chief minister Prithviraj Chavan this is a prestige issue. "Many Congress MLAs, who are voters in the council polls, are unhappy with Chavan's style of functioning. So, they may vote against the Congress candidate to dent the CM's image and lessen his control over party. Therefore, we have to find a win-win solution that will not damage our image nor benefit NCP," said a senior Congress leader.
According to a political observer:
"It's a prestigious fight for NCP as well as Congress. If one candidate withdraws his nomination, it will be a fiasco for his party as that would dent its bargaining power in the seat-sharing discussions for the assembly polls."