INDIA. Mumbai: Following requests by leaders cutting across party lines, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday withdrew its candidate, Murji Patel, from the Andheri (East) Assembly bypoll, thus clearing the way for Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena’s Rutuja Latke to win unopposed.
BJP (Maharashtra) President Chandrashekhar Bawankule announced this in Nagpur on Monday, saying that in keeping with the tradition in Maharashtra, BJP candidate for the Andheri East bypoll Murji Patel has withdrawn his candidature.
The seat had fallen vacant after Rutuja Latke’s spouse, the Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, passed away following cardiac arrest in May this year. The by-election to the seat was scheduled to be held on November 03.
After BJP fielded its candidate Murji Patel, the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray wrote to Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis requesting the BJP not to contest the bypoll. Responding to his letter, Fadnavis had said that he could not take the decision alone and that the matter needed to be discussed at the senior level in the party.
Similarly, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar opined that the election should be unopposed. It didn’t make any sense to hold the bypoll, considering the tenure left on the seat is only for one-and-a-half years. It takes a heavy toll on all the candidates who contest assembly elections. It is better to avoid it this time, Pawar had said.
Additionally, MLA Pratap Sarnaik (Eknath Shinde faction) had written to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde requesting him not to contest the bypoll against Rutuja.
Before Rutuja Latke filed her nomination, she went through tense moments since her resignation from service was not accepted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). She was holding a clerical post in the BMC.
Eventually, the matter went to the Bombay High Court, and the court on Thursday directed the BMC to immediately issue a letter of acceptance to the resignation of Rutuja Latke by 11 am on Friday. Finally, she filed her nomination on that date. Similarly, Patel filed his nomination accompanied by a host of leaders.
In any case, the stakes were in favour of the Shiv Sena ( Uddhav Thackeray faction) in this election because the Eknath Shinde faction is yet to make dents in several pockets of Mumbai and late Ramesh Latke carried a tremendous amount of goodwill. In addition, Congress, NCP, CPI and others extended their support to Rutuja Latke.
Besides, she also had the advantage of a sympathy wave in her favour following the demise of her spouse.