Mumbai, May 23 (IANS): Effectively shutting the door on Yuvraj Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati of Kolhapur, the Shiv Sena on Monday made it clear that it would not support any independent candidate in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.
Sena's Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that the party will put up two candidates and expressed confidence that both will win.
Raut's reference was to former President-nominated MP Sambhajiraje's announcement last week that he would contest the RS elections solo and seek the support of various parties.
"We have nothing against Sambhajiraje... If he has said he will contest independently, then he must have arranged for his 42 votes," Raut retorted, and reiterated the Sena stance on the issue.
Since the past couple of days there has been political speculation that the Sena would be prepared to field Sambhajiraje provided he joined the party and was reportedly given a 'deadline' till 12 noon Monday (May 23) to decide.
However, Sambhajiraje has not commented on the matter so far and is firm on going solo in the RS polls.
Raut confirmed that the Sena had invited Sambhajiraje to join the party and become its candidate, and now the decision was left to him.
Reaffirming that both the seats belong to the Sena, Raut said the party is keen to increase its tally in the Upper House of Parliament and hence there was no question of backing any independent candidate.
The RS elections are being held to fill up the vacancies by six retiring members -- one each from ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies, Shiv Sena (Sanjay Raut), Nationalist Congress Party (Praful Patel) and Congress (P. Chidambaram), and three from the Bharatiya Janata Party Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Piyush Goyal and Dr. Vikas Mahatme.
However, as per indications, BJP may repeat Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, the Sena will field its fiery Chief Spokesperson Raut and NCP may retain its general secretary Patel, who is a close confidante of party President Sharad Pawar, but the fate of Congress' Chidambaram is uncertain with the recent CBI action against his family.
This time, given the re-alignment of the legislature after the 2019 Assembly elections, the BJP can comfortably win two seats of the three it holds, and the MVA can win their three seats, and is toying with a fourth candidate to bag the third seat held by the BJP.
Staking a unilateral claim to the sixth seat is Sambhajirae, the 13th direct descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who plans to dive into the RS polls as an independent.
The electoral college comprises the 288 MLAs and a candidate must get 42 votes to win a seat in the Upper House of Parliament.
The MVA has 170 MLAs -- Shiv Sena 55 (one MLA Ramesh Latke died in Dubai last week), NCP 53, Congress 44, smaller parties/groups 10 and 8 Independents.
On the Opposition side, BJP has 106 with other smaller parties/groups 2 and 5 Independents.
Sambhajiraje explained that in these circumstances, the BJP can get only two seats, and the Sena-NCP-Congress one each, so he would contest that 'extra' sixth seat independently with the support of various major and smaller parties.