Alleging that the BJP is putting pressure on the MLAs of smaller parties and Independents ahead of the June 10 Rajya Sabha election, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday said the ruling MVA coalition in Maharashtra `does not have the Enforcement Directorate on its side'. Expressing confidence that the Sena-NCP-Congress alliance will still bag four out of six seats, he advised the saffron party not to "waste its money".
The Shiv Sena and BJP -- the friends turned foes -- will battle it out for the sixth seat of Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra as none of the seven candidates in the fray - four of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and three of the BJP - withdrew their nominations on Friday. "By fielding a third candidate, the BJP has decided to contest the Rajya Sabha election.....It is relying on Independents and smaller parties. They are being pressurized, and we are getting all information about this. The MVA too is contesting the election seriously. The only thing we don't have is the ED," Raut told reporters here.
"The BJP should not waste money (on election), instead it should use it for social causes. The MVA will win all four seats comfortably," added the Sena leader, who himself is seeking another Rajya Sabha term as his party's candidate.
Speaking to reporters in Latur, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis refused to respond to Raut's barbs. “Who is Sanjay Raut? What is he? He keeps making contradictory comments. Why should I respond to them?” asked the former chief minister. “Is he some renowned philosopher or a great leader? He keeps talking about any issue the whole day. No need to comment on it," Fadnavis added. To another question, he said the former Congress and NCP leaders who have joined the BJP would remain loyal to their new party. “These leaders got frustrated with their old parties, hence they joined the BJP. So they will vote for the BJP candidates,” he said.
An election -- with MLAs as voters -- would be held for Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra for the first time since 1998. The BJP has fielded Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde, and former MP Dhananjay Mahadik, while Shiv Sena has put up Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar. The NCP has renominated Praful Patel, while Congress has fielded Imran Pratapgarhi.
The fight for the sixth seat is between the BJP's Mahadik and Sena's Pawar.