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Another Rahul begins his political innings

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, June 5 (UNI) Another Rahul stepped into the political arena today.

Pune-based industrialist Rahul Bajaj has thrown his hat in the political ring for a seat in the Upper House of Parliament with the help of three political parties in Maharashtra -- NCP, BJP and Shiv Sena.

Call it an irony, or a quirk of fate, with one Rahul (Gandhi) already in the Parliament, another (Mahajan) in the arclight for all the wrong reasons, this Rahul (Bajaj) -- a renowned two-three wheeler producer from Pune -- is all set to take up public service finally as a people's representative for the seat which fell vacant following the demise of senior BJP leader Pramod Mahajan.

Mr Bajaj, who is known for his no-nonsense attitude and likes to call spade-a-spade without mincing words, has received support from the three political parties to stride into the Parliament.

Political observers maintain that the support from three political parties was not sought by Mr Bajaj personally. But was thrust upon him, perhaps, a fall-out of all the political parties in Maharashtra, including Congress, not willing to concede the seat to the other caused by the untimely death of Mr Mahajan.

It would not be wrong to infer that the Maharashtra politics, divided between four major parties -- Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena-BJP -- is in disarray.

Though Congress-NCP have an alliance in the state as well as at the Centre for the Rajya Sabha by-election, the NCP preferred to throw their weight behind Sena-BJP candidate as the party bosses were hurt due to the treatment that Congress gave to them at the time of recently-concluded biennial legislative council elections.

During the Council elections, the NCP had suggested to Congress that they should give one additional seat to the NCP and in lieu of that Congress should field their candidate for Rajya Sabha. As this formula was not accepted, the NCP suggested that Congress should support the PWP nominee Jayant Patil.

But refusing to accept both, the Congress fielded fourth candidate for Council elections Rajan Teli, a hardcore supporter of Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, who got him elected in the just-concluded biennial Legislative Council elections through the cross voting from the Sena.

But the NCP bosses, including Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil, immediately said that the party would have to think on different lines for Rajya Sabha.

Congress, after considering to field Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee President Prabha Rau, zeroed in on former MLA Avinash Pande, a close associate of Dr Shrikant Jichkar as the RS candidate.

On the other hand, the NCP, BJP and Sena queered the pitch for cornering the Congress and preferred Rahul Bajaj, whose ancestors had worked with Mahatma Gandhi and even with Congress.

State BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who is abroad, told UNI last night over telephone that ''we are going to support Mr Bajaj''.

Besides the support from Sena-BJP, the support of NCP, whose chief Sharad Pawar is currently in New York, proved vital for Mr Bajaj.

UNI JM/SN SSS RP GC1710

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