Cong, BJP racing to finalise candidates for Maha polls

Cong, BJP racing to finalise candidates for Maha polls

Top Congress leaders were closeted at the party's 'war room' headed by Scindia to discuss its nominees for the elections in Maharashtra.

A flurry of meetings were held on Thursday by the BJP and the Congress to finalise their strategies and candidates for the Maharashtra assembly elections, which were scheduled to be notified formally by the Election Commission on Friday.

The two parties were virtually racing against time as the nomination process for the October 21 elections would kick start on Friday with the last date for filing of election papers being October 4.

BJP President Amit Shah chaired the party's core group meeting on the Maharashtra assembly polls that was attended by BJP working president J P Nadda, senior leaders Nitin Gadkari, Bhupender Yadav, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, state unit chief Chandrakant Patil and other leaders from the state.

Discussions in the meeting centered around the seat-sharing formula with coalition partner Shiv Sena and BJP deciding to leave no more than 125 seats for its oldest ally. BJP was looking to contest on 155 seats and leaving eight seats for its minor allies such as RPI(A), Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Rayat Kranti Sangathana. Maharashtra assembly has 288 seats.

The core group meeting was followed by a series of meetings to discuss candidates and plan out the campaign at the residence of Yadav. The meetings continued late in the evening.

In 2014, Maharashtra had witnessed a four-cornered contest with BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP going it alone.

Top Congress leaders were closeted at the party's 'war room' here to discuss its nominees for the elections in Maharashtra. The screening committee, chaired by AICC General Secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia, met here on Thursday morning. The meeting was attended by AICC General Secretary Mallikarjun Kharge, in-charge of party affairs in the state, Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, senior leaders Eknath Gaikwad, Vijay Wadettiwar, among others.

The Central Election Committee of the Congress also met on Thurday evening to finalise candidates for 116 seats. As per the seat-sharing formula, Congress and NCP were to put up candidates on 125 seats each, leaving 38 seats for smaller parties.

However, neither the BJP nor the Congress were expected to announce the list of candidates till the end of the 'shraadh' period, considered inauspicious by many, on Saturday.

Also, the NCP has decided to leave the Satara Parliamentary seat, which fell vacant after sitting party member Udayanraje Bhosale quit to join the BJP, for the Congress. Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is expected to be the Congress candidate for the Lok Sabha bye-election which would be held on October 21.

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