The Shiv Sena and the faction led by Maharashtra’s prime minister, Eknath Shinde, will face each other again in their first election test in Andheri (East) in Mumbai, shortly after a bitter court battle over who will hold a Dussehra rally on the traditional location of the Sena, Shivaji. Park. Former CM Uddhav Thackeray may have won that round, but this is an opportunity for the Shinde faction to prove its popularity.
The bypoll to the Andheri (East) assembly segment in Mumbai, which was represented by Sena MLA late Ramesh Latke, will take place on November 3. The electoral commission announced Monday the schedule for the bypoll, for which the counting of votes will take place. on 6 Nov.
There’s another reason to keep an eye on this match as both factions compete for Sena’s ‘bow and arrow’ poll symbol. The Election Commission hears pleas from both to decide on the “real” Shiv Sena and the allocation of the symbol.
Andheri (East) seat became vacant after the death of Latke, who was an MLA twice in a row. The ruling BJP and Shinde faction have fielded former BMC corporator Murji Patel, while Uddhav is likely to draft Latke’s wife, Rutuja Latke. The Sena will be helped by the NCP in the bypoll, party leader Sharad Pawar told reporters in Pune.
Andheri East constituency is one of 26 segments in the suburbs of Mumbai. It is part of the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency. Latke had won the Congressional seat in 2014 and was represented by Congressional Suresh Shetty in 2009.
Another confrontation on Dussehra
Meanwhile, preparations for the two major Dussehra meetings of the Sena and Shinde factions are underway. There are strict security measures in all of Mumbai, police said.
Uddhav will address Sena’s meeting on October 5 at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai, while Shinde’s faction has hosted its Dussehra event at the MMRDA grounds in the Bandra Kurla complex near ‘Matoshree’, the private residence of the former CM.
“Thousands of people from across the state are expected to attend both gatherings, so arrangements have been made to ensure public order and deal with any untoward incident. Local police and additional coverage by other units will be in place,” a police officer said.
Vishwas Nangre Patil, the joint police commissioner in Mumbai, said his team visited Shivaji Park and BKC to take stock of the security facilities at the sites. Strict security measures are in place as there is a chance that rival factions could come face to face, leading to a matter of law and order, police said.
According to the police, Shinde’s security was recently increased due to a threat input. The CM visited the MMRDA site and took stock of the preparations for the October 5 event. “I have visited the hall (in BKC) and the preparations are in full swing. Lakh’s people from all over the state will come to the meeting and all departments are working to make sure they don’t face any problems. Our preparations will be over tomorrow (Tuesday) and this rally will be a success,” said Shinde.
Sheetal Mhatre, a spokesman for the Shinde camp, said preparations were nearly 80 percent over and 4,000 to 5,000 buses had been booked to take supporters to the rally site.
Also in Shivaji Park, the Uddhav Thackeray-led camp is making its own preparations for the rally – building a stage and making seats. The senior leadership of the Uddhav faction met at Shiv Sena Bhavan, the party headquarters in Dadar, to take stock of the ongoing preparations.
(with PTI inputs)
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