The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its first list of 125 candidates for the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly polls. This includes expected names like Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and state unit president Chandrakant Patil, but high-profile figures Eknath Khadse and Vindo Tawde are missing from it. Fadnavis, the first BJP chief minister of the state, will seek a consecutive fifth term from Nagpur South West, while Patil, a two-time Maharashtra Legislative Council member, will make his Assembly election debut from Kothrud in Pune.
The list has names of 12 women candidates, including seven sitting MLAs. Kothrud MLA Medha Kulkarni was denied a ticket this time to accommodate Patil, who is also a minister, while in Mulund in Mumbai, sitting MLA Sardar Tara Singh has been replaced by Mihir Kotecha. Among the notable debutants, Fadnavis's private assistant Abhimanyu Pawar has been fielded from Ausa in Latur district. Several leaders from the Congress and NCP who made their way to the BJP in the run-up to the polls have been rewarded and handed election tickets. These are Harshvardhan Patil (Indapur), Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (Shirdi), Vaibhav Pichad (Akole), Jaykumar Gore (Man), Madan Bhosale (Wai), Rana Jagjitsinh Patil (Tuljapur), Kalidas Kolambkar (Wadala), Shivendraraje Bhosale (Satara) and Sandeep Naik (Airoli).
The list does not figure the names of Khadse, a former minister and among the party's prominent leaders from the state, and School Education minister Vinod Tawde. In adjoining Thane district, where the BJP has nine MLAs, it has renominated all but two of them. The party has renominated its sitting MLAs Mahesh Chowgule (Bhiwandi West), Kisan Kathore (Murbad), Ganpat Gaikwad (Kalyan East), Ravindra Chavan (Dombivili), Narendra Mehta (Mira Bhayander), Sanjay Kelkar (Thane) and Manda Mhatre (Belapur). Narendra Pawar, the sitting BJP MLA from Kalyan-West, has been denied ticket. Sandip Naik, who was elected in 2014 from Airoli on an NCP ticket and joined the BJP a few weeks ago, has been fielded by the saffron party from the same seat in Navi Mumbai. In Palghar district, the party has again given ticket to Paskal Dhanare, the sitting MLA from Dhanau, and fielded Hemant Sawra, son of former minister Vishnu Sawra, from Vikramgadh.
The Maharashtra Assembly elections will be held on October 1. The elections will be held in a single-phase polling and counting of votes will take place on October 24. The Maharashtra Assembly consists of 288 seats. In 2014 in the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the BJP and Shiv Sena had contested separately over a dispute over sharing of seats. The BJP had won 122 out of 260 seats it had contested while the Sena bagged 63 out of 282 seats. After the BJP government was formed, Shiv Sena had joined the alliance. The Shiv Sena and the BJP will contest the Maharashtra Assembly elections together this time after an announcement was made over seat-sharing. Shiv Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray will become the first from his family to contest elections, fighting it out for the Worli seat.
(With PTI Inputs)