The clock is ticking: Chhagan Bhujbal opts out in Nashik to allow MahaYuti consensus

The Maharashtra minister and veteran NCP leader said he had decided not to contest, to enable MahaYuti partners to finalise seat-sharing arrangements

NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal (left) hears the clock ticking and opts out of the Nashik race to enable closure of MahaYuti seat-sharing deals (photo: IANS)
NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal (left) hears the clock ticking and opts out of the Nashik race to enable closure of MahaYuti seat-sharing deals (photo: IANS)


Maharashtra minister and veteran Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal has announced today, 19 April, that he is opting out of the fray for the Nashik Lok Sabha constituency, to enable the MahaYuti partners to seal a seat-sharing agreement at the earliest.

He however made it clear that his decision in no way signals any discontent with the NCP leadership, saying that he would campaign for the candidate who was finalised by the MahaYuti for Nashik.

With Bhujbal's announcement, the ball is now in the court of the other MahaYuti partners — the BJP and the Shiv Sena. Apart from Bhujbal, the BJP has staked a claim to the seat citing its strength, while sitting Shiv Sena MP Hemant Godse has already launched a campaign demanding his renomination.

Bhujbal's move has stunned the NCP leadership, as it was engaged in talks with the Shiv Sena and BJP over his claim to the Nashik seat.

As the founder of the Samata Parishad, which has a strong presence in the OBC community that constitutes about 33 per cent of the state population, Bhujbal's decision may impact the prospects of the NCP and MahaYuti adversely, as the OBCs could feel that its tallest leader has been victimised.

"I was told that after the Holi festival, I should be ready to contest from the Nashik seat as my name was recommended by the BJP's central leadership," said Bhujbal. "I had a meeting with our party chief Ajit Pawar who also said that the party is in favour of contesting the Nashik seat.

"However, three weeks have passed but the deadlock continues, and therefore, I decided to opt out of the race. However, I strongly feel that the MahaYuti should soon solve the deadlock as the Maha Vikas Aghadi nominee had already started his campaigning," he said.

He added that if the deadlock continues, the MahaYuti will have to make greater efforts to win the seat.

Bhujbal also reiterated that he had only started his preparations after he was informed that the BJP central leadership wanted him to contest from Nashik due to his bright prospects.

"I am thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and my party leaders also for considering my name for Nashik seat," he said, adding: "I will campaign wholeheartedly for the MahaYuti candidate in Nashik and also in other constituencies."

Bhujbal figured in the headlines during the Maratha reservation protest by Manoj Jarange-Patil, after he opposed giving Kunbi certificates to the Maratha community from the OBC quota.

He was isolated in the NCP for his stance; but he stuck to it, saying that giving our Kunbi certificates to the Marathas was an encroachment on the OBC reservation quota. He also opposed the state government's move to conduct a survey of Kunbi records across the state.

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