The Congress let its ally NCP contest in the by-election to the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha constituency fearing that a section of NCP workers might not cooperate if it had fielded its leader Nana Patole from the seat, sources have said.
Patole, who as a BJP candidate had defeated NCP heavyweight Praful Patel from the constituency in the 2014 parliamentary election, was keen on contesting on a Congress ticket this time, the sources said.
The sources added that fielding Patole, who quit the BJP criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over several issues including agrarian crisis, would have made the ruling party leave no stone unturned to see the former MP was defeated in the May 28 by-election.
Had Patole contested, the BJP would have launched an aggressive campaign to defeat him given his criticism of Modi and Fadnavis.
"Plus, in such a scenario, the possibility of local NCP workers helping the BJP was always there. To avoid this, the party gave up its claim on the seat, one of the sources added.
Besides Bhandara-Gondia, by-election will be held in Palghar constituency, where the Congress has fielded its candidate, on the same day.
The Congress is banking on former MP Damodar Shingda to win the Palghar seat, the sources added. The Congress and NCP have already decided to contest the bypolls in alliance.
The NCP has fielded Madhukar Kukade in BhandaraGondia.
Hemant Patle and Rajendra Gavit are the BJP candidates for the Bhandara-Gondia and Palghar seats respectively. Gavit had crossed over to the BJP from the Congress and given the party's ticket on May 8.
The results of the by-elections will be announced on May 31.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)