Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BJP Fields 26/11 Attacks Lawyer Ujjwal Nikam From Mumbai North Central, Drops Poonam Mahajan

Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BJP Fields 26/11 Attacks Lawyer Ujjwal Nikam From Mumbai North Central, Drops Poonam Mahajan

The former special public prosecutor will now lock horns with Congress's Mumbai unit chief and Dharavi MLA Varsha Gaikwad in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Saturday, April 27, 2024, 07:57 PM IST
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The BJP on Saturday nominated noted public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam as its candidate from Mumbai north central parliamentary constituency | File

Mumbai: In a surprise move, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday nominated noted public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam (71), who successfully prosecuted Ajmal Kasab and others in the 26/11 terror attack case, as its candidate from Mumbai north central parliamentary constituency. It dropped Poonam Mahajan, who had successfully contested the 2014 and 2019 elections. Poonam is the daughter of the late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan who was killed under mysterious circumstances by his own brother Pravin in 2006. Incidentally Nikam was the public prosecutor in this case.

Even though Poonam is an excellent speaker with organisational skills, she was perceived as an under performer as a parliamentarian. Specially in her second term as M.P. she had not maintained regular contact with her voters and party cadres. 

BJP announced Ujjwal Nikam as its candidate from Mumbai's North Central Lok Sabha seat

BJP announced Ujjwal Nikam as its candidate from Mumbai's North Central Lok Sabha seat |

The BJP was waiting for the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) to declare its candidate before making its move. On Friday, the MVA asked city Congress president Varsha Gaikwad, who is the MLA from Dharavi, to contest from this seat. While Varsha belongs to the scheduled caste, Nikam is a Maratha.

Former Congress minister Arif Naseem Khan was aspiring for the party ticket to contest from this seat, but his claim was overlooked by the party leadership. Khan is highly miffed at being ignored by his party and has vented his frustration. He said the party wanted Muslim votes, but not Muslim candidates. 

Even though Nikam, who is originally from Jalgaon,  was known to be a BJP sympathiser, he is a novice in electoral politics. The party was willing to give the ticket to its city president and MLA Ashish Shelar, but he declined the offer. He has more interest in state politics and may emerge as a candidate for chief ministership if the BJP and its allies secure a majority after the assembly elections, which are likely to be held soon after the LS polls.

Meanwhile, the BJP is yet to finalise its nominee for the prestigious Mumbai south seat. The contest in the main is between minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha and Speaker Rahul Narwekar, who represent Malabar Hill and Colaba assembly constituencies. Narwekar had spoiled his chances by attending a meeting organised recently by don Arun Gawli's Akhil Bharatiya Sena and declaring support for it.

The Shiv Sena (UBT) had fielded its sitting M.P. Arvind Sawant for the third time from this seat and in Mumbai south central it has Anil Desai, who is known for his proximity to the Thackeray family. Desai is pitted against Rahul Shewale, sitting M.P. of the Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde). In Mumbai north east the BJP has given ticket to its MLA Mihir Kotecha even though its sitting M.P. Manoj Kotak was known to have performed well both inside the House and in the constituency.

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