At a time when the Shinde camp and Thackeray faction are engaged in a battle over their respective claims on poll symbol bow and arrow in the Election Commission, the Shinde camp has indicated that it will not field its nominee in the upcoming Andheri East by-election. This means BJP will contest the seat against Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray supported by NCP and Congress.
Shiv Sena is expected to nominate Rutuja Latke, who is the wife of the former Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke who died in May while BJP is likely to field former BMC corporator Mulji Patel who had contested as an independent in 2019 assembly election but lost the poll.
A Shinde camp legislator told the Free Press Journal, ‘’Shiv Sena nominee Ramesh Latke had contested on bow and arrow symbol and won the 2019 assembly elections defeating an independent Murji Patel. BJP has already started preparations for the upcoming by-election. The Chief Minister Eknath Shinde led Shiv Sena will have to start anew and therefore it will not insist on fielding its nominee. BJP has already launched an outreach with voters in the constituency.’’
However, Shinde camp Minister Uday Samant said,’’ It is the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s prerogative to decide the candidature for the Andheri East assembly by-election. There is no reason for us to have any objection against the MVA nominee. However, the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis will take a decision on whom to nominate from Shinde camp.’’ However, Samant declined to further divulge whether the Shinde camp will contest or BJP will field its nominee which will be supported by Shinde camp.
Meanwhile, Congress continues to be a divided house on supporting Shiv Sena in the ensuing by-election. State chief Nana Patole has already announced the party’s support to Shiv Sena while a section of the Mumbai unit is strongly opposed to it fearing adverse impact on Congress party’s prospects in the BMC elections. Former Congress minister Suresh Shetty, who had in the past represented the constituency, is expected to give its report to the high command.
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