Sources: BJP likely to support scion

The BJP is expected to declare its decision on Monday or Tuesday afternoon.

Mumbai: Stumped by ally Shiv Sena’s decision to go it alone in the Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to support the candidate fielded by Sena to avoid “division of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) votes”. The BJP is anticipating Sena support in the Bhandara-Gondia constituency. The Sena does not have any presence in east Vidarbha, and the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership is expecting the party not to contest the seat.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has already drawn deceased MP Chintaman Vanaga’s family into the party fold. Still, BJP leaders are trying to convince the Vanaga family members to return to its fold. On Monday however, Mr Thackeray announced the Sena decision to contest the Palghar by-election on its own, confounding the BJP. A senior cabinet minister said, “The Sena leadership has not even discussed the issue of an alliance with us. This would hurt our central leadership.”

Sources however claimed that the BJP was still trying to field Srinivas Vanaga (Chintaman Vanaga’s son) as its candidate from Palghar. The minister said, “We will try to convince Mr Thackeray that BJP will field Srinivas Vanaga and not the Sena.” But he was quick to add that if Mr Thackeray refused to budge from his stance, the BJP would have no other option but to contest the election.

Meanwhile, another senior leader informed about BJP’s plan B. “There is also talk in the party to let Sena contest Palghar altho-ugh it was with us in 2014. In return, the Sena will not contest from Bhandara-Gondia. At this juncture, winning both seats is very important for us,” a leader said on condition of anonymity.

The night of Monday, the BJP leadership will discuss the development with the central leadership. There could be a meeting of the party’s core group in Mumbai late on Monday night. The BJP is expected to declare its decision on Monday or Tuesday afternoon.

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