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Raj Thackeray urges BJP not to contest Andheri East bypoll to show reverence to deceased MLA


Maharashtra Navirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday wrote to Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis not to field his party’s candidate for the upcoming bypoll of the Andheri East Assembly constituency in reverence to late MLA Ramesh Latke, whose death has necessitated the election.

While Fadnavis has admitted that the letter was sent to him in good faith, he said that he would have to discuss with the party leadership before taking a decision.

In a letter addressed to the BJP leader, which he posted on social media, Raj Thackeray said the MNS will not be contesting the November 3 byelection to show its reverence for the deceased legislator.

The Andheri East bypoll was necessitated after the death of sitting MLA Ramesh Latke and his wife Rutuja has filed her nomination. The MNS will not contest the election as our way of paying reverence to the departed soul, the MNS chief said.

Appealing to Fadnavis, Raj Thackeray said, I sincerely request you not to enter the byelection and field a candidate against Rutuja Latke. I have witnessed late Ramesh Latke’s journey and growth in the political arena.”

Ramesh Latke, the sitting MLA from Andheri East, died of a cardiac arrest in May this year.

The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have decided to support Rutuja Latke, who is contesting from Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray party.

Reacting to Raj Thackeray’s appeal, Shiv Sena chief spokesperson and MP Arvind Sawant said, I welcome Raj Thackeray’s appeal, but it is too late. The nominations have already been filed and the election is forced on us because of the BJP. The BJP has contested similar bypolls in the past when the election was necessitated due to a sitting MLA’s death.

BJP MLC Prasad Lad said, Neither Uddhav Thackeray nor any of his colleagues contacted the BJP requesting or appealing to its leaders to not contest the bypolls. They were sitting in their ivory tower.

The decision of not contesting the bye-poll will be taken by leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Ashish Shelar, who is the Mumbai BJP unit chief, he said.

Speaking to reporters, Rutuja Latke said, I had earlier thought that this will be a unanimous election, but I am ready to fight the bypoll.

Reacting to the development, Fadnavis said, I will have to discuss the issue with our party leaders and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. I admit that he sent the letter in good faith, but we will seriously discuss it. The final decision will be taken only after a discussion with the senior leadership in the party. I alone can’t decide about it. The candidates have already filed their nominations as well, the BJP leader told reporters here.

In earlier instances when there was proper communication, we had decided not to contest bypolls. For instance, when NCP leader and former home minister R R Patil had died. It is not like we (BJP) never considered opting out of a byelection. Whenever there is a proper communication or appeal to made to us, we have responded properly, he said. Fadnavis further stated that BJP leader Ashish Shelar had met Raj Thackeray at latter’s residence during the day with a request to support the BJP’s candidate in the bypolls.

Raj expressed his wish to Shelar that the BJP should not contest the election. Now, he has written to me as well, the deputy chief minister said.

Fadnavis, however, refused to comment on the scathing remarks made by Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ against the BJP alleging that the saffron party is using Eknath Shinde and his faction.

It is as good as a small newspaper. I will not stoop to comment on whatever is written in that paper. It is a one-sided newspaper and is left with no option but to be criticise us, the BJP leader said, adding that nobody reads Saamana these days.


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