The Shiv Sena on Saturday gave a “green signal” to three-time sitting MP Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil and first-time MP Shrirang Barne as candidates from their respective constituencies of Shirur and Maval for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The nod came from Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray who held a meeting with the party office-bearers in a city hotel on Saturday. The move means that both constituencies may, for the first time, witness a three-way contest between the Sena, BJP and the NCP, if there is no pre-poll alliance between the Sena and the BJP. In both constituencies, the Sena has had an upper hand for the past 15 years.
Stating that he was confident of getting the go-ahead, Barne said: “At the meeting, the party chief sought the view of all office-bearers from Maval taluka. All of them said they were happy with the performance. After that, the party chief said that Barne will once again be our candidate, based on his performance and his popularity as the MP.”
Patil said: “At the meeting, our party chief said he was confident that like the last time, I will win with a massive margin.” He said there was no need for his name to be announced officially. “Will the NCP announce Supriya Sule’s name from Baramati? Likewise, I am an automatic choice from Shirur,” he said.
In the 2014 elections, Barne defeated Laxman Jagtap, an Independent backed by the MNS and PWP, by a margin of 1.5 lakh votes. Patil had won in Shrirur by a record margin of over three lakh votes for the third consecutive time.
Both Barne and Patil said they faced no challenge in their respective constituencies and the party’s decision has given them a head-start. “As of now, there is a possibility of a three-way contest in my constituency. But there are no opponents whom I can name. I have got enough time to campaign,” said Patil. Barne said: “Look at my last victory margin. It will improve this time. In my last programme, which Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan attended, my work was praised and it has gone down well with the people.”
Asked about the development, BJP leader Sarang Kamtekar said: “We need not worry about candidature. But our party has to take a decision…” Kamtekar added: “Last time, Gajanan Babar was told that he would be contesting the Maval seat. But at the last minute, he was replaced by Barne. Therefore, nothing is fixed in the Sena.” NCP leaders said the party has not yet taken any decision regarding candidates.
Asked if the Sena and the BJP would contest together, Uddhav Thackeray told the media: “The decision is taken not by one individual, but by several of them. I have spoken about it several times, we will see at that time…”
Criticising the BJP, he said the central government took the decision regarding demonetisation in a jiffy, but was hesitant to take decision on the Ram Mandir. “The way they took a quick decision to impose demonetisation, in the same breath, they could have taken the decision regarding building the Ram temple,” Uddhav said.
He said the BJP keeps harping on building Ram temple, bringing in Uniform Civil Code and repealing Section 370, but fails to take a decision. “They do not specify when they will take a decision,” he said.