Mumbai, April 19: Maharashtra Minister and Ajit Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, Chhagan Bhujbal, who was eyeing to contest as Mahayuti candidate in the Lok Sabha polls, has withdrawn from the race on Friday over the delay in the announcement of the candidate for the Nashik seat.

"I am withdrawing from this fight. It's taking longer. Only discussion is going on. I am withdrawing from contesting the Lok Sabha elections," Bhujbal said while addressing a press conference on Friday. Lok Sabha Election 2024: Eknath Shinde-Led Shiv Sena 'Unilaterally' Announces Hemant Godse as Its Candidate From Nashik, BJP Miffed.

Chhagan Bhujbal Withdraws From Contesting

Bhujbal claimed that he was told by NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel that Union Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah has suggested his name for the Nashik seat. "On the day of Holi festival, Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel called me and said that when Nashik seat was discussed in the meeting, Amit Shah said that Chhagan Bhujbal will contest from Nashik seat, though Sameer Bhujbal's name was also raised," the NCP leader said.

He further alleged that the naming the candidate for the Nashik seat was taking longer despite "having the circumstances," while urging the party to announce the candidate for the seat soon. "When I went to Nashik, I received support from everyone, including the OBC, Marathas and ST communities. I called Devendra Fadnavis and asked him to give the candidature to Sameer Bhujbal from Nashik. Devendra Fadnavis also said that you will have to contest the elections. The Centre, which is Amit Shah and the Prime Minister also expressed the same wish. Despite these circumstances, the seat has not been announced yet," he said. Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BJP, Shiv Sena Talks Continue Over Six ‘Difficult’ Maharashtra LS Seats.

"The issue regarding Nashik seat has not been cleared yet. The MVA declared its candidates three weeks ago and started campaigning. The more time we take the more loss we will face. Therefore, this deadlock had to be broken...I decided that I did not want to be part of this fight...I have decided that I will not be the candidate (from Nashik)..."

The Maha Vikas Aghadi has fielded Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Rajabhau Waze from Nashik, while a dispute over the seat has been going on among the alliance partners of the ruling coalition, Mahayuti, which includes the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiv Sena-Shinde faction and Ajit Pawar's NCP.

Reportedly, the Shinde-led Shiv Sena and the NCP have both staked claims over the seat, which is still undecided. The voting in Nashik will be held on May 20 in the fifth phase. Meanwhile, Maharashtra, which has 48 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, is polling in five seats today. The polling is held in Chandrapur, Bhandara-Gondiya, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Ramtek and Nagpur on Friday.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 23 out of 25 seats it contested in alliance with the undivided Shiv Sena. Elections to the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra will be held in five phases. The counting of votes will be held on June 4.

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