Allies Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are rivals in the Gujarat Assembly polls, with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray fielding his party’s candidates in seats considered to be strongholds of the BJP. However, a Sena minister was in Surat recently promoting a BJP candidate.
Maharashtra Minister of State for Water Resources and Water Conservation Vijay Shivtare, who is the Sena legislator from Purandar in Maharashtra, was in Surat’s Choryasi Assembly constituency on November 22 to attend the election campaign of BJP candidate Jhankhana Patel, daughter of deceased BJP legislator from the constituency Raja Patel. Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar was also present at the rally to support Jhankhana Patel.
Choryasi has always been a BJP stronghold. Following Raja Patel’s death due to dengue in 2015, his daughter contested the by-election and retained the seat. “No city in the country has seen the kind of rapid development the city of Surat has undergone,” Shivtare was quoted as saying at a rally, in a press release issued by the BJP Surat (City) office.It further quoted Shivtare as saying, “I am not attending this campaign on behalf of my party, but for my family, as Rajabhai Patel was a very close friend of mine. We lived together in Mumbai for sometime. Rajabhai and I joined politics during the same time.”
The release said Shivtare asked people to vote in large numbers for Jhankhana Patel. “If Jhankhana Patel wins with a heavy margin, it will be a tribute to Rajabhai Patel in a true sense,” Shivtare was quoted as saying. Shivtare did not respond to several calls made by this paper. Shelar declined to comment. The Shiv Sena has fielded 47 candidates in Gujarat, especially in Surat and Rajkot. The party has fielded 30 candidates for the first phase of polls, while 17 will contest the second phase, said Rajul Patel, Shiv Sena corporator from Mumbai, who is part of the team constituted by the Sena to finalise candidates and draw up a strategy for the Gujarat polls.