In make-or-break election, Congress’s Rane files papers amid show of strength
Narayan Rane on his way to file nomination for Bandra East Assembly constituency on Tuesday. (Express photo by: Kevin DSouza)
Former chief minister Narayan Rane Tuesday filed his nomination papers for the prestigious Bandra (East) assembly bypoll amid much fanfare.
Flanked by senior Congress leaders, including state party chief Ashok Chavan, former state chief Manikrao Thakre, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam and former Maharashtra minister Naseem Khan, Rane held a rally in the afternoon before reaching the office of the returning officer to file his papers. His road show turned out to be a show of strength with NCP leaders Jitendra Awhad and Sachin Ahir, among others, also joining the procession.
The by-election, which was necessitated after the death of Shiv Sena’s Prakash (Bala) Sawant, is being seen as a ‘make or break’ contest for Rane, who had suffered a shocking defeat in his pocket borough Sindhudurg at the hands of the Shiv Sena in the assembly polls in October last year.
Desperate to remain relevant in state politics, the Congress leader has decided to contest the Bandra (East) byelection that will be held on April 11. The contest is being seen as a prestige battle between Rane and the Sena. Matoshree, the Thackeray residence, is located in the same constituency.
The Sena has fielded Sawant’s wife Trupti. The party, which had retained the seat with a comfortable margin in the assembly poll, is banking on the sympathy factor and its loyal voter base in the area to win the seat again. The Rane camp, on the other hand, is hoping that the sizeable Muslim population and his appeal among voters hailing from the Konkan belt — the constituency has 80,000 such voters — will turn the contest his way.
But Congress supporters are wary of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which has fielded (Raja) Rehbar Khan, who too filed his nomination Tuesday. Trupti had filed her papers on Monday. The AIMIM candidate had contested the October poll too and had polled over 19,000 votes, finishing third. The BJP had secured the second position.
Rane, however, played down the AIMIM factor. “They won’t matter. My fight is against communal forces and I’m confident of winning,” he said.
While BJP did not field a candidate in Sena’s support, NCP and MNS too decided against contesting the bypoll.
Meanwhile, in Sangli’s Tasgaon-Kavthe Mahankal seat, where the bypoll will be held on the same day, BJP’s Swapnil Patil entered the fray as an Independent. He will take on NCP’s official candidate Suman Patil, who is the widow of NCP leader R R Patil, the former home minister whose death last month necessitated the bypoll.
Source:: Indian Express