Mumbai: As the united Maha Vikas Aghadi nominee, Shiv Sena (UBT)'s Rutuja Latke raced towards victory, the Opposition parties slammed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for propagating 'None Of The Above' (NOTA) option in the Andheri East Assembly bypolls, here on Sunday.
Latke had bagged over 42,000 votes at the end of the 11th round of vote-count followed by the NOTAA option getting nearly 9,000 votes.
Sena (UBT) Chief Spokesperson and MP Arvind Sawant termed it as "crooked dirty politics" for allegedly bribing the voters to exercise the NOTA option and mar the chances of Latke.
"The role of the Election Commission of India (ECI) is intriguing... Despite videos of the persons giving and taking bribes for choosing NOTA, no action was taken. Our candidate Latke was harassed at every stage, right from the beginning of the election process till now," Sawant said sharply.
Deputy Leader of Maharashtra Legislative Council and Sena (UBT) leader Dr. (Mrs.) Neelam Gorhe also attacked the BJP on the issue, but said that given the current trends, Latke would get around 60,000 votes.
Official announcement of Latke's win expected shortly
Though the victory of Latke is imminent, the official announcement from the ECI is expected shortly.
The main candidate in the fray, Latke is the widow of former sitting legislator Ramesh Latke whose death in May necessitated the by-elections on November 3.
Latke was fully supported by the MVA allies, Sena (UBT), Nationalist Congress Party and Congress and she contested on her party's new name and symbol - Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) - and the Flaming Torch.
Latke challenged by six other candidates
She was challenged by six other candidates, two local political parties and four independents but is expected to romp home easily.
The contest lost its political sheen after the BJP withdrew its candidate Murji Patel, and others like Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, Aam Aadmi Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, etc. did not put up candidates.
An ex-BMC employee, Latke fought against Bala Nadar (Aapki Apni Party), Manoj Kumar Nayak (Right to Recall Party), besides the four independents Farhan Syed, Neena Khedekar, Milind Kamble and Rajesh Tripathi.