Pune, Feb 6 (IANS): In an apparent climbdown, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday expressed readiness to withdraw its candidate from the Kasbapeth Assembly constituency to ensure an unopposed by-election here on February 26.
State BJP President Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Pune polls in-charge Chandrakant Patil said the party was prepared to give a ticket to the legendary Tilak family if the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi agrees to an unopposed election.
The prestigious Kasbapeth bypolls are necessitated after the death of sitting BJP MLA Mukta S. Tilak - a great-grand-daughter-in-law of the freedom-fighter, Bal Gangadhar Lokmanya Tilak - in December 2022.
Bawankule and Patil said they are willing to field Shailesh Tilak (husband of the late Mukta Tilak), the great-grandson of Lokmanya Tilak, as the party candidate replacing veteran BJP leader, Hemant Rasane, whose name was announced last week.
The two leaders said they have issued oral and written appeals to all MVA leaders like state Congress President Nana Patole, Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party leaders Sharad Pawar and Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar and even Thackeray's ally, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar.
"We have asked them to clarify their stand... If they are agreeable to unopposed elections, we can field Shailesh Tilaka," both Bawankule and Patil said.
However, Pune and State Congress leaders, Sena (UBT) and NCP leaders made it clear that they will not take the BJP's bait and would unitedly contest the Kasbapeth bypolls.
"The MVA has unanimously decided to fight the Kasbapeth seat. We have nominated Ravindra H. Dhangekar as our united candidate," declared Patole.
Sena (UBT)'s Sanjay Raut and NCP leaders have said that "there is no question" of backing out of the bypolls in Kasbapeth and Chinchwad seats.
The BJP has fielded Ashwini L. Jagtap - the widow of the sitting BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap, who passed away in January - for the Chinchwad seat, who will be pitted against the NCP which will contest the seat.