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Widow of MNS legislator joins NCP


Mumbai : Her late husband was in the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), she’s from the Congress and Thursday she joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Pune leader Harshada Wanjale has jumped ship to contest as the NCP candidate in the Khadakwasla assembly by-election, the seat left vacant after her husband’s death.

Criss-crossing party lines, the widow of former MNS legislator from Khadakwasla, Ramesh Wanjale, will contest on NCP ticket Oct 13.

Harshada was welcomed into the party by state NCP chief Madhukarrao Pichhad, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and MP Supriya Sule-Pawar, in whose Baramati parliamentary constituency Khadakwasla falls.

Stung by Wanjale’s decision to join the NCP, the MNS has decided not to field a candidate against her.

“We shall not contest the (Khadakwasla) assembly seat. This will be our tribute to the memory of the popular leader Ramesh Wanjale,” MNS chief Raj Thackeray had said Wednesday.

Wanjale, nicknamed ‘Golden MLA’ for sporting several heavy gold necklaces, died following a massive heart attack in Pune June 10.

Interestingly, Khadakwasla seat belongs to the NCP quota, but the Congress had sought its ally’s clearance to contest since it wanted to field Harshada.

However, NCP rejected the demand and instead offered to nominate Harshada, who joined the party.

On the opposition front, the seat falls in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quota. However, ally Shiv Sena wanted to contest the seat as the BJP had fared miserably in the last assembly elections.

While MNS candidate Wanjale had secured 44.93 percent of the votes polled, NCP got 32.12 and BJP managed only 16.59 percent.

The Shiv Sena wanted to contest Khadakwasla in an attempt to cash in on what it perceives to be an anti-incumbency wave against the ruling Democratic Front combine.

On the other hand, the NCP insisted on contesting it to improve its tally vis-à-vis Congress by cashing in on Wanjale’s popularity.