//BJP votes for Mahajan's widow, Cong says 'no'

BJP votes for Mahajan's widow, Cong says 'no'

Tuesday May 23 2006 16:01 IST


NEW DELHI: BJP has failed in its attempts to replace its late leader Pramod Mahajan in the Rajya Sabha with a member of his family with the Congress declining to concede the seat from Maharashtra in the June 15 bypolls. Highly placed party sources said the BJP has given up its efforts to nominate Mahajan's widow Rekha as a consensus candidate after NCP leader Sharad Pawar indicated to party president Rajnath Singh that the Congress appeared to be unwilling to leave the seat, a vacancy caused by Mahajan's death.

Singh had telephoned Pawar on Sunday during which the Maharashtra strongman is understood to have indicated that even if the NCP was not against the idea of any Mahajan kin replacing him, it did not want to go against the wishes of its coalition partner, the Congress party and strain the alliance.

Though Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh too appeared to be "soft" towards the suggestion, he has reportedly not been able to persuade the party high command, the sources said.

While both Singh and Sushma Swaraj have spoken to Pawar on the issue, no party leader has so far discussed the issue directly with any Congress leader including Deshmukh, which has upset some Mahajan loyalists in the party.

Contrary to media reports, Singh also did not take any names with the NCP leader and had only sought to know what he had in mind.

However, the party appeared to be in favour of Rekha rather than Mahajan's son Rahul, who also called on Pawar on Monday.