Parties eye ‘winnable’ candidates
MUMBAI: From tapping into possible contenders from rival parties to wooing popular faces, all political parties have begun to identify strong, “winnable” candidates, ahead of the general elections this year.
However, the uncertainty over an alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena has kept many hopeful Lok Sabha candidates from all parties on tenterhooks. “Many Sena MPS feel that without the alliance, their winning chance is bleak, not only owing to the vote division, but also owing to tough competition from the BJP. They also think the BJP has stronger ‘resources’. However, even BJP MPS who won the previous elections by narrow margins are worried about possibility of a threecornered contest,” said a Sena leader, requesting anonymity.
The leader also said both parties have not only kept two separate lists of candidates ready for both situations (alliance or not), but have also begun tapping candidates from each other’s parties. Confirming this, a BJP leader
said, “At least two sitting Sena MPS from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region are believed to be in touch with the BJP in case the parties decide to go solo. Similarly, Sena MP Krupal Tumane from Ramtek is allegedly vying for a seat from BJP.”
The BJP is also likely to decide its candidate in south Mumbai on the basis of the alliance decision. A former MP from a Mumbai suburb has put up posters in his constituency without party affiliation to keep his options open. The BJP is also likely to lose some candidates who will prefer to go back to the Congress or NCP — for instance, BJP’S Kalyan MP, Kapil Patil, who is said to have met Congress leaders for candidature. Similarly, BJP MP Heena
Gavit and her father, former NCP minister Vijay Gavit, are both likely to head back to the NCP. Sanjay Kakde, BJP Rajya Sabha MP is also believed to be unhappy and is likely to be the Congress candidate from Pune. “The BJP would not be able to attract leaders from other parties in the way that it did in 2014 elections,” said Hemant Desai, a political analyst.
The BJP leader also said with both the parties contesting limited seats, it would be difficult for them to find strong candidates in a three-cornered fight. Therefore, the party has also been tapping into popular Bollywood faces to field from the more difficult seats. The party is planning to field actor Madhuri Dixit from Pune and is in talks with others. “There is nothing wrong if actors or respected personalities from other fields contest the elections,” said BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar.
Similarly, the Congress is also considering whether it should rope in actor Nagma and cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin for the North Mumbai constituency.
“There is likelihood that turncoats in 2014 elections will go back to their original parties, especially the Congress and the NCP. All parties will give more importance to the ‘winnability of the candidates’,” said Desai.
At the same time, there is dispute over a couple of seats between Congress and NCP owing to the candidates they want to field. The NCP has been demanding Nandurbar seat from Congress for Gavit and his daughter Heena, who is reportedly keen on fighting elections from NCP. Similarly, Congress has demanded Ahmednagar seat for Dr Sujay Vikhe-patil, son of leader of Opposition in the legislative Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-patil. If talks between the Congress and the NCP fail over the seat, Sujay may switch to BJP.