HomePoliticsA humdinger of a contest in the offing for the Andheri East...

A humdinger of a contest in the offing for the Andheri East constituency on November 3

@vivekbhavsar

Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded former party Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) corporator Murji Patel for the high-stakes Andheri East assembly constituency bypoll. He is pitted against Rutuja Latke, wife of late Shiv Sena legislator Ramesh Latke. Both candidates and their concerned party leaders have predicted victory in the by-poll.

However, the question is whether the Marathi-dominated constituency will support the Kutchi Gujarati candidate or will Rutuja Latke ride a sympathy wave.

From his humble beginnings, Murji Patel, who reportedly spent nights on the footpath and slept in the BJP office, has had a meteoric rise. He started Liaoning with the topmost builders engaged in Slum Rehabilitation (SRA) schemes. 

Ironically, it was Murji who had campaigned for the late Ramesh Latke when the Sena and BJP were in alliance and is today contesting the election against Latke’s widow, Rutuja.

Patel is the candidate of the BJP, Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (Shinde Sena) and Republic Party of India (Athawale) alliance. 

On the other hand, Rutuja is the candidate of an alliance of Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray party (Uddhav Sena), Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). 

Andheri East was once a Congress bastion.

But Ramesh Latke had defeated Suresh Shetty, then sitting minister from the Congress in the 2014 Assembly polls. Latke again won the 2019 assembly polls against Patel, who had contested as an independent at the time.

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The by-poll in the Andheri East constituency is the first election after the split in the Shiv Sena. Hence, it is the litmus test for the BJP-Shinde alliance as well as for the original Shiv Sena (Uddhav Sena). “The sympathy is with Uddhav Thackeray as the Shinde group divided Shiv Sena, claimed on Shivaji Park for Dussehra Melawa, claimed on party name and symbol. Apart from Shiv Sainik, even a Marathi man who is neither Shiv Sainik nor a supporter of Shiv Sena, does not like what Shinde did with Uddhav Ji,” said Dr Manisha Kayande, Spokesperson of Uddhav Sena. 

Dr Kayande further added that they (Shinde-BJP faction) tried hard to ensure that the resignation of Rutuja Latke was not approved by the BMC. This is dirty politics and people do not like it. Hence, the whole universe is behind Latke and she will win the election.

Deepak Kesarkar, Minister in the Shinde-BJP government and spokesperson of Shinde Sena said that the resignation was “pure drama” (played by Rutuja Latke) to gain the sympathy of voters. Uddhav Thackeray is playing a foul game and blaming us for every mistake their faction is committing. 

He said that they (Uddhav Sena) were in power in the BMC all this while.

“Were they not aware of the rules of resignation? Then why are they blaming us? “People will not vote for the Mashal (party symbol of Uddhav Sena) which is in the hands of Congress,” claimed Kesarkar. 

On the other hand, Mahesh Tapase, NCP spokesperson criticised Eknath Shinde for not fielding their candidate in the by-poll. Shinde has bowed before the Lotus (party symbol of the BJP), said Tapase.

Meanwhile, in the Andheri East constituency, the number of caste wise voters is as follows

Community Voters (2019)          Voters (2022)

(tentative)

Marathi     88416    98000

Gujarati     26592    40000

North Indian 49908 60000

South Indian   12231 15000

Rajasthani       ——        15000

Muslim           35056     35000

Christian       10181       15000

Punjabi           1378         2000

Others             1483

Vivek Bhavsar
Vivek Bhavsar
Vivek Bhavsar is the Editor-In-Chief. He is a senior journalist having experience of more than 30 years in political and investigative journalism. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheNews21. He has worked with leading English mainline dailies, including The Asian Age, Free Press Journal, and also carries the experience of strides in leading regional newspapers like Lokmat and Saamana.

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