Embarrassment as BJP changes Maha MLC candidate at last minute

Mumbai, May 12 (IANS) In what was termed as a big embarrassment, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was forced to change its candidate for the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections at the last minute here on Tuesday.

On the final day of scrutiny and a couple of days before the deadline for withdrawal of candidature, the state BJP asked its nominee Ajit Gopchhade to withdraw his nomination papers in favour of Ramesh Karad, who had also filed his papers as a dummy candidate.

Karad, a nephew of education baron Vishwanath Karad from Latur, is a close associate of the sidelined BJP heavyweight and former minister Pankaja Munde from Beed.

The decision to withdraw Gopchhade – considered a protege of Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis – was ostensibly owing to certain alleged technical glitches in his nomination papers, political sources said.

Karad had shot to limelight in the 2018 MLC by-elections when he quit the BJP to join the Nationalist Congress Party and was given a ticket to contest the polls against the BJP's Suresh Dhas, who had just quit the NCP.

However, after three days, Karad suddenly quit the NCP to rejoin BJP and withdrew his candidature, paving way for Dhas' election as MLC, shocking political circles.

Besides Karad, the BJP has nominated Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil, Gopichand Padalkar and Pravin Datke as its official candidates in the biennial elections to the 9 vacant MLC seats.

From the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi, there are Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Legislative Council Vice-Chairperson Neelam Gorhe (Shiv Sena), Shashikant Shinde and Amol Mitkari (NCP) and Congress' Rajesh Rathod in the fray.

With nine candidates left in the race, they are expected to be declared elected unopposed.



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