Andheri East bypoll: Stakes high for Uddhav Thackeray, MVA alliance
Voting for the Andheri East Assembly bypoll in Mumbai will be held on Wednesday with seven candidates, including the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction’s Rutuja Latke, in the fray.
The bypoll, which was necessitated after the sudden demise of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke in May this year, is significant for the Thackeray-led Sena as it is the first election after the split in the party following a rebellion spearheaded by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and other MLAs.
This is also the first time that the Sena is contesting an election with the support of its Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The bypoll is also a litmus test for the MVA as an alliance.
While the BJP had fielded Murji Patel as its candidate against Rutuja, the party withdrew his candidature after deciding not to contest the polls.
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The Andheri East Assembly constituency was formed in 2009 after delimitation in 2008. In the 2009 elections, Suresh Shetty of Congress won the seat by consolidating a total of 55,990 votes and defeating Ramesh Latke, who had got 50,837 votes.
In the Assembly elections of 2014, Shiv Sena’s Ramesh Latke contested the elections and won by consolidating a total of 52,692 votes, defeating Congress’ Suresh Shetty and BJP’s Sunil Yadav by taking over 34 per cent of the vote share. While Yadav was the first runner-up with 47,338 votes, Shetty followed with 37,929 votes.
In 2019, Murji Patel rebelled from the BJP and contested as an Independent candidate as the BJP and Sena alliance contested the Andheri East Assembly election with Latke as their candidate. With 62,773 votes in his favour, Latke defeated Murji Patel by a margin of over 17,000 votes. Patel had polled 45,808 votes despite being an Independent candidate.
The social equation in the Andheri East constituency is a decisive factor as it is home to a mixed population of different castes, languages and religions and Congress votes are likely to help the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction.
The constituency approximately comprises 38 per cent Maharashtrians, 21 per cent North Indians, 14 per cent Muslims, 12 per cent Gujaratis and Rajasthanis, 7 per cent South Indians, 5 per cent Christians and 2 per cent others.
The constituency has a total of 2.74 lakh electors and during the 2019 election, the voting was around 53.82 per cent, which is 1.48 lakh.
“Since there is support of Congress and NCP, there are chances that the Sena might be able to attract the non-Hindu and non-Marathi votes too along with their traditional Marathi votebank,” a political analyst said, adding that this however depended on how they campaigned.
Meanwhile, the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena alleged on Tuesday, the last day of campaigning, that voters were being paid to choose the None Of The Above (NOTA) option in the bypoll.
BOX: Andheri (East) 2019 Assembly election
Total voters – 2.74 lakh, of which 1.49 lakh are males and 1.26 lakh are females. In the 2019 Assembly elections, 1,47,863 people cast their votes, an average voter turnout of 53.82 per cent.
Late Ramesh Latke (Shiv Sena-BJP) – 62,773 votes
Murji Patel (BJP rebel, contested as an Independent)- 45,808 votes
Amin Jagdish Kutty (Congress) – 27,951 votes
Sharad Sopan (VBA) – 4,315 votes