Mumbai: The bypoll in Palghar has become a prestige issue between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP is fuming over hijacking of their candidate by Shiv Sena. The Sena’s masterstroke may widen the rift between the two parties and may result in there not being any alliance between them in the next General Election.
The bypoll became necessary after the death of sitting BJP MP Chintaman Vanga. Voting will happen on May 28 and counting will be held on May 31. The bypoll in Palghar is being seen as a litmus test for the BJP and CM Devendra Fadnavis ahead of the general election in 2019.
On Tuesday, the Shiv Sena fielded nomination of Shrinivas Vanga, son of late BJP MP Chintaman Vanga, for the Palghar bypoll. Shrinivas was ‘hijacked’ by the Sena last week and kept away from BJP leaders for four days.
After four days the BJP finally found a candidate for the seat and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP State President Raosaheb Danve declared Rajendra Gavit as the BJP candidate for the bypoll.
Fadanavis said that Shiv Sena’s decision to nominate Vanga is unfortunate. “Palghar is BJP’s seat and BJP workers have created it after working there for 40 years. Shiv Sena is miffed with BJP, which was not expected,” he said.
As an alliance we had a pact for the bypoll. If the Shiv Sena has a sitting member than BJP will not contest on the seat and vis-e-versa. Shiv Sena did not follow the unwritten pact, he asserted.
If sources are to be believed, Vanga’s family, after the death of the MP, reached out to Fadnavis for a ticket for a family member in the upcoming poll. But when the family didn’t get a response from him, they approached Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
“We were so keen on nominating one of the Vanga family members, but before we could decide Vanga approached Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray,” said Fadnavis.
However, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), a local party led by Bhai Thakur has a strong hold over urban constituencies like Vasai, Nalasopara and Boisar constituencies, is likely to be kingmaker in the upcoming bypoll.
Thakur said his is a major party in this region and will field a candidate from the constituency. “Our party, BJP and Congress are natural parties here and Shiv Sena has no stake in this tribal area. Though the BJP will have to face a setback after refusing ticket to Vanga,” said Thakur.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister and BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar warned the Sena to reconsider its decision or face the consequences. The Palghar Lok Sabha constituency consists of six Vidhan Sabha segments -- Vasai, Nalasopara, Boisar, Vikramgadh, Dahanu and Palghar. Shiv Sena has a very strong hold over the Palghar constituency.
In the last Lok Sabha election, BJP’s Chintaman Vanga had bagged 5,33,201 votes, thanks to the Narendra Modi wave that helped the party bag 53.72 per cent votes, while BVA’s candidate was at the second place with 2,93,681 votes.