The Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will face its first popularity test in the November 3 bypoll to the Andheri (East) Assembly segment in Mumbai, which was represented by Shiv Sena MLA the late Ramesh Latke.
The upcoming contest has sparked intense interest because both Shiv Sena factions are vying for the Shiv Sena’s “Bow and Arrow" symbol. The Election Commission is currently hearing petitions to determine the ‘true’ Shiv Sena and the election symbol. The Election Commission announced the byelection schedule on Monday. The election will be held on November 6th.
Both the factions have been vying to claim Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s legacy. Two separate Dussehra rallies, organised by Uddhav and Shinde, will be held in Mumbai. A lot of party fanfare and security arrangements have preceded the rallies, which are set to be a showdown in spirit between the factions. CLICK HERE to read more about the Dussehra rallies
The Andheri (East) seat fell vacant after the death of Latke, who had won the seat two times in a row, in May this year. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shinde faction have fielded Murji Patel, a former corporator of the Mumbai civic body, in the byelection. The Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray is likely to field late Latke’s wife Rutuja Latke. Speaking to reporters in Pune, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday said his party will held Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in the byelection.
Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar on Sunday inaugurated the party’s central office for the by-poll in suburban Andheri. He tweeted that Murji Patel enjoys a lot of support among local people. Andheri East Assembly constituency is one of the 26 segments located in Mumbai Suburban district.
अंधेरी पूर्व विधानसभा पोटनिवडणुकीच्या निमित्ताने अंधेरी पूर्व येथे निवडणूक मध्यवर्ती कार्यालयाचे उद्घाटन आज करण्यात आले. भाजप आणि शिंदे गट युतीचे उमेदवार श्री. मुरजीभाई पटेल यांना स्थानिकांचा भरघोस पाठिंबा असल्याचे यावेळी दिसले. pic.twitter.com/KdQ5IZpw9l— Adv. Ashish Shelar - ॲड. आशिष शेलार (@ShelarAshish) October 2, 2022
It is part of the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency. The late Latke had wrested the seat from Congress in 2014. In 2009, it was represented by Suresh Shetty of Congress.
BMC Polls Upcoming
Shinde’s rebellion brought down Thackeray’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in June, and the two factions have had an acrimonious relationship since, with workers clashing on the streets at times.
The BMC polls, which were scheduled to take place in January and February of next year, have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The BJP and Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena will run as alliance partners in the BMC elections, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced in September. “The BJP and Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena will contest the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections together," Fadnavis had said during a press conference in Mumbai.
However, speculation is on about the seat-sharing formula between the BJP and the Shinde-led faction, which is yet to be determined. According to reports, both sides will discuss seat sharing based on the ground reality and ward-by-ward strength of each party.
In the most recent BMC elections, held in February 2017, the Shiv Sena won 84 seats, while the BJP won 82. The Congress Party won 22 seats, while the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won only nine.
No Stones Unturned
With the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in mind, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had attacked the BJP in September and ‘challenged’ Union Home Minister Amit Shah to hold civic elections within a month. Thackeray, speaking at his first rally since resigning as chief minister in June, had urged his party workers to fight the upcoming BMC elections as if it were their first.
Taking a shot at Fadnavis, who had told BJP workers that every election should be fought as if it were the last election of their lives, Thackeray said, “Yes, this is your last election," and then told his party workers to fight the election as if it were their first.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah is said to have set a target of 150 seats for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, in the upcoming BMC elections and expressed confidence in their victory, ANI had earlier reported.
Meanwhile, with an eye on the BMC elections, Shinde had recently said BMC and Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) employees will receive a bonus of Rs 22,500 each ahead of Diwali. Over 93,000 employees will receive the bonus. BEST employees, BMC officials and teachers/non-teaching staff in schools will receive Rs 22,500 while health workers will receive one month’s salary as a bonus.
The ruling party’s meticulously planned strategy is also inclusive of festivities. The Marathi Garba, organised by the BJP, was first introduced by singer Avdhoot Gupte, and also features Bollywood A-lister Ranveer Singh.
Ranveer Singh was the main attraction in the Marathi dandiya programme organised by BJP MLA Mihir Kotecha on the weekend of October 2nd. Ranveer Singh’s powerful performance captivated the audience who attended the event, Mirror Now reported.
With inputs from agencies