The BJP on Wednesday, 3 April, dropped its sitting MP Kirit Somaiya, whose name was opposed by ally Shiv Sena, as its candidate from Mumbai North East and also announced its nominees for the Lok Sabha election against key Opposition leaders like Sonia Gandhi of the Congress and SP’s Akhilesh Yadav.
The move comes in the backdrop of widespread disapproval among Shiv Sena workers about Somaiya’s behaviour. The Shiv Sena workers had threatened to stir trouble if BJP named him for the upcoming polls as they were miffed with his consistent criticism of party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
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According to the reports, Somaiya had recently sought time for a meeting with Thackeray and Sena MP Sanjay Raut but both of them had reportedly refused to meet him.
Also Read: Tussle Between BJP-Shiv Sena Over Somaiya’s Nomination in LS Polls
‘BJP Will Lose if Somaiya Fielded’
Raut had publicly expressed his reservations against Somaiya and claimed that if the BJP fields Somaiya it will lose the seat.
“Due to the allegations levelled by Somaiya against Thackeray in the last 3-4 years, not only Shiv Sena, but the people of the constituency and all Marathi-speaking people are opposing him. Even if he is given a ticket by mistake, I assure you that the BJP will lose the seat,” Raut had said.
Somaiya, an old BJP hand and one of its leading speakers on economic issues in Parliament, had been a trenchant critic of the Sena.
On Mumbai North East constituency, Shiv Sena had been bitterly opposed to Somaiya’s candidature. And the BJP’s decision to replace him with Manoj Kotal underscores its keenness to keep its Hindutva ally in good humour.
Polling for Lok Sabha election in Mumbai North East seat will be held on 29 April in the fourth phase of general elections. The last day of filing of nominations is 9 April.
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The BJP has pitted well-known Bhojpuri actor and singer Dinesh Lal Yadav against Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav from Azamgarh.
It has fielded Prem Singh Shakya against Yadav’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri.
Also Read: Shiv Sena Men Tried to Kill Me: BJP MP Kirit Somaiya
The party also named Dinesh Pratap Singh, a local strongman who had left the Congress to join it last year, as its candidate against Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli.
The seat has long been a bastion of the Gandhi family with the former Congress president representing it in Lok Sabha since 2004.
The party has replaced sitting Machhlishahr MP Ram Charitra Nishad with VP Saroj.
The BJP named Chandra Sen Jadun as its candidate from Firozabad. The SP had won from Azamgarh, Mainpuri and Firozabad in 2014, with members of its ruling Yadav family emerging victorious.