Tawde wants to enter Assembly ring
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Opts for safe Mulund, a BJP stronghold
Vinod Tawde has started the spadework to shed his MLC tag and seek popular mandate of people to enter the Assembly. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior is said to be eyeing the central suburb seat of Mulund, a safe bet as it is a known BJP stronghold, now held by the BJP.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council has indicated to the BJP state brass his desire to contest the Assembly elections and BJP state chief Sudhir Mungantiwar is believed to have given his consent.
Tawde, who has climbed the political ladder from an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) leader to the Leader of the Opposition, has indicated to the party that he has served two terms in the Council and it was time for him to test the waters and seek a direct public mandate. Tawde, who had recently taken charge as Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council is ready to relinquish the charge to move to the Assembly.
The BJP, is getting ready to start poll preparations in advance and identify candidates with electoral merit to improve its tally. BJP leaders feel they will have to work hard to improve the tally to at least 65 in 2014. In 2009, the BJP had won 46 seats and ally Shiv Sena 44 seats.
In the endeavour to increase their numbers in the Assembly, several young turks including Ashish Shelar are being seen as prospective BJP candidates. Shelar is reportedly being pitched from Bandra.
The BJP strategy to increase in the state appears to include pushing forward several second-rung leaders. The party's seat choices are, however, limited by ally Shiv Sena. Tawde, whose area of work has always been Vile-Parle (western suburbs) has not insisted on his home turf as Shiv Sena will contest the seat, BJP sources said. The Sena and BJP have a seat-sharing formula, and both would not like to recommend any drastic changes that could threaten their alliance. That's one reason the BJP suggested those interested in entering the Assembly fray to opt for seats already with the BJP.