Par­ties eye ‘winnable’ can­di­dates

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTMETRO - Suren­dra P Gan­gan

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.

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