Mumbai, May 27 Citing ‘self-respect’ and to prevent ‘horse-trading’, Yuvraj Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje, the scion of the Kolhapur throne, opted out of the Rajya Sabha race here on Friday.
Sambhajiraje – who was hoping to contest as an independent with the support of the extra votes of various parties and independents – said his decision arose out of ‘self-respect’, to prevent ‘horse-trading’ and concern for the masses who are his real strength.
The 13th direct descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj also attacked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, accusing him of “not honouring” his word to support his solo candidature and insisting that he (Sambhajiraje) should first join Shiv Sena before getting a ticket.
“For me the RS seat is not the concern… The welfare of the masses is more important for me… I will go on a statewide tour to strengthen the idea of ‘Swarajya’ now and see my strength,” said Sambhajiraje with a tinge of disappointment in his voice.
He said that two Sena MPs had met him in a five-star hotel recently to discuss the issue and conveyed the CM’s desire that Sambhajiraje should become a Shiv Sena member and the party would immediately nominate him for RS.
“I made it clear that I wish to contest as an independent and will not join any party for the RS ticket… Now, I shall have nothing to do with the RS elections,” Sambhajiraje declared.
He made it clear that he had no ‘angst or ill-will’ against any party as they all had their respective agendas to pursue and he respected their stand.
Sena MP Arvind Sawant denied Sambhajiraje’s allegations against the CM and blamed him for not accepting the Sena’s offer and missing a ‘great opportunity’.
“He was earlier an NCP member then what prevented him from joining Sena… You stick to your views, we stand by our opinions” said Sawant.
BJP Leader of Opposition (Council) Pravin Darekar slammed the Sena for ‘insulting and humiliating’ Sambhajiraje and said the people of the state will not forgive them.
Congress President Nana Patole said it desired Sambhajiraje to enter the Rajya Sabha and whether he is an MP or not, the Congress will always stand with him.
A few days ago, the Chhatrapati had announced his plans to contest the RS polls solo with the backing of all other parties like the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, smaller parties and independents.
Though most parties kept silent, the Shiv Sena was prepared to offer him a ticket with a pre-condition that he should join the party as it wanted to increase its tally in the Upper House of Parliament.
Last week, the Sena invited him to CM’s residence to tie the ‘Shiv Bandhan’ and join the party, but Sambhajiraje spurned the offer.
A day later, Thackeray finalised the name of Shiv Sena Kolhapur District President Sanjay Pawar, who – along with Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut – filled their RS nomination papers on Thursday.