Maharashtra: BJP Withdraws From Andheri By-Polls, Makes Way For Uddhav Thackeray Shiv Sena Candidate
In a major plot twist in the Andheri (East) by-polls, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to withdraw its candidate Murji Patel, and make way for Uddhav Thackery Shiv Sena’s candidate and wife of deceased MLA, Rutuja Latke.
The by-polls were necessitated when incumbent MLA Ramesh Latke passed away in May this year.
The seat is dominated by Marathi-speaking population and is considered a strong constituency for Shiv Sena.
Latke had won the polls twice in 2014 and 2019. Before him, it was Congress which held the seat.
The elections were seen as a litmus test for the BJP and the Shiv Sena after the latter was split and a new government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was formed.
The Uddhav Thackeray faction had the support of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar as well as Congress and a credible sympathy card.
BJP, on the other hand, was banking on Shinde’s Sena along with the 15 per cent of voters belonging to Marwadi and Gujarati communities in the constituency.
BJP had fielded Murji Patel in the elections. Patel had come second in the 2019 elections in the same seat as an independent.
On 17 October, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray wrote to Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis not to field his party's candidate for the upcoming by-poll in reverence to the late MLA Ramesh Latke. NCP chief, too, sought the unopposed election of Rutuja Latke.
The Maharashtra party chief, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, announced that BJP would withdraw its candidate.
"The BJP has decided not to contest the Andheri East by-poll. Murji Patel, who had filed the nomination from the BJP, will now withdraw it. We could have otherwise won the election," Bawankule said in Nagpur.
“The BJP had previously also not contested some of the by-polls,” he added.
Had BJP won the elections, it would have put a seal of approval by the people on the new government formed after the felling of the Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) government.
The chain of events has made the following picture clearer:
-NCP and Congress are still putting their weight behind Uddhav Thackeray and keeping the MVA going.
-In what could have been a major perception loss for the MVA, has been turned into statesmanship.
-With the BJP on a backfoot (since MLA from Shinde camp also urging the CM to urge the BJP to withdraw its candidate), this round could have gone in the favour of MVA.
(With inputs from PTI)
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