The BJP on Wednesday announced that it would field Manoj Kotak from the Mumbai North East Lok Sabha constituency, denying its sitting MP Kirit Somaiya a re-election ticket ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in a decision that may well be considered a moral victory for the Shiv Sena.
Kirit Somaiya in the last five years has made various derogatory remarks against the Shiv Sena chief, Uddhav Thackeray, calling him as “Mafia Don”, “Bandra ka Boss” and similar words. The animosity between the Shiv Sena and Somaiya has been ongoing for a long time.
Somaiya's name was missing as the BJP released its 16th list of Lok Sabha election candidates on Wednesday, revealing its cards for some of the most high-profile seats in Uttar Pradesh along with one from Maharashtra. The list featured the name of Manoj Kotak, confirming that he will be contesting from the Mumbai North East seat and dashing Somaiya's hopes.
Post the announcement of an alliance by Sena’s chief Uddhav Thackeray and BJP party president Amit Shah, the local unit of Shiv Sena leaders had openly declared that they would not be accepting Somaiya name as a candidate.
Various other leaders including Sena MLA Sunil Raut had publicly announced that if the BJP provides a ticket to Kirit Somaiya then he would contest independently in opposition to him.
Even though both the parties had formed an alliance for the Lok Sabha elections, the Sena leaders had made it clear that they would not be following orders if they are asked to support Somaiya. There was, therefore, a huge tension between the local leaders of the Shiv Sena and Somaiya.
Almost all the local leaders of the Shiv Sena belonging to the Mumbai North-East constituency publicly said that because Somaiya had insulted the founder of the party, Balasaheb Thackeray, along with its chief Uddhav Thackeray on many occasions in the past, they would not accept his candidature.
Uddhav Thackeray had also said to the BJP leaders that his party cadre had declared that they would support and work with BJP on all other seats but wouldn't favour Somaiya contesting for the Mumbai North-East seat. This message has also been conveyed to CM Devendra Fadnavis and all other leaders.
Meanwhile, over the course of the last two weeks, Somaiya had made many attempts to meet Uddhav Thackeray in order to clear his stand but was denied an appointment for the same, sources told Republic.
Many BJP leaders had tried to convince Uddhav Thackeray to forget all grievances but the word from Matoshree, the residence of the Shiv Sena chief, was firm on neither accepting any kind of apology nor providing Somaiya a ticket for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Polling in Mumbai North East parliamentary seat in Maharashtra will be held on 29 April, the fourth phase of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.