Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray party’s nominee Rutuja Latke, wife of late Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, will file the nomination papers for the Andheri (East) Assembly bye-election on October 14.
Former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackery, his son and Worli MLA Aaditya Thackeray, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Nana Patole, and other key leaders of Maha Vikas Aghadi would accompany Ms. Latke in submitting the nomination.
Both, the Congress party and Nationalist Congress Party have extended their support to Ms. Latke, making it a contest between the Maha Vikas Aghadi and the ruling Eknath Shinde-BJP alliance.
“There is no second thought. Symbol or party name doesn’t matter for us as we are the real Shiv Sena and our candidate will have a landslide victory,” said Uddhav loyalist and Member of Parliament (Mumbai North-West) Gajanan Kirtikar told The Hindu.
The poll-bound Andheri (East) Assembly segment falls under Mr. Kirtikar’s parliamentary constituency and the byelection was necessitated due to the sudden death of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke.
According to Mr. Kirtikar, they have to ‘tolerate’ the Election Commission of India’s decision to use an alternate name and symbol allotted on Monday instead of ‘Shiv Sena’ and its symbol ‘bow and arrow’.
“We are facing such a situation after nearly 33 years. But, now there is no alternative and we have to go with the situation and win the election,” he said.
The MP, who was confident that the MVA would win the byelection with a majority of at least 30,000 votes against the Eknath Shinde-BJP alliance candidate Murji Patel, said, “the symbol and party name doesn’t matter as long as we have their [voters] support.”
He said that in 1967-68 when they first contested the civic body polls in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, many of their candidates got the ‘sword and shield’ as their poll symbol. “In the 1985 elections, our candidates contested polls with ‘torch’ as their symbol. Until we were recognised as a State party in 1989 and got ‘bow and arrow’ as a symbol, we contested on different symbols in various elections,” Mr. Kirtikar said.
Though the BJP has a strong vote bank in Andheri, it is the sympathy factor that is going to help the Uddhav Thackeray camp in the November 3 byelection, which will be the first major electoral contest between both the warring factions post-split in June this year, and the winning party will have a psychological boost ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation election.