The Shiv Sena, which declared its first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections on Friday, has denied a ticket to Osmanabad sitting MP Ravindra Gaikwad. However, the party has reposed its faith in experienced stalwarts who have been holding on to their seats for years rather than nominating young leaders.
These Sena leaders include Chandrakant Khaire, who has been elected four times from Aurangabad in Marathawada region, Anant Geete, who has been elected from Raigad and Ratnagiri constituencies six times, Anandrao Adsul, who has been elected from Amravati and Buldhana constituencies for five terms, Bhavana Gawli, who has been elected from Yavatmal-Washim four times, and Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil, who has represented Shirur and Khed constituencies for three terms.
After announcing the list, Sena leader Subash Desai said the party has focussed on the candidates’ elective merit and also taken into consideration the views of local leaders. “There was resentment against sitting Osmanabad MP Ravindra Gaikwad and that’s why he has been replaced,” he said. Sena has fielded Omraje Nimbalkar from Osmanabad instead.
Besides the tried-and-tested candidates, the Sena list also includes first-time MPs such as Shrirang Barne, Vinayak Raut, Gajanan Kirtikar, Rahul Shewale, Hemant Godse, Krupal Tumane, Rajan Vichare, Sanjay Jadhav and Sadashiv Lokhande.
Adhalrao-Patil, who will be contesting for the fourth time, said he had been confident of being renominated. “The party has put its faith in its long-time winners. I think there was no reason to replace those who have won decisively, when the party was in power and even when the party was not in power,” he said.
The Sena leader said in the last Lok Sabha elections, people said many MPs were elected because of the “Modi wave”. “But we have been winning even when there was no wave. It shows our party’s acceptability among masses year after year,” said Adhalrao-Patil.
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Some of the MPs who have been renominated had faced severe opposition before the party formed an alliance with the BJP. Even after the alliance was formed, the opposition has continued. For instance, Anand Adsul has faced opposition from the BJP rank and file in Amravati over his renomination.
BJP leaders insisted that the seat should be contested by the party as Adsul had done little for the constituency.
Similarly, Sena’s sitting MP Shrirang Barne had faced opposition to his candidature from Maval. Here too, the BJP leaders were demanding that the seat should be contested by the party as its strength had grown compared to the Shiv Sena. They cited the capture of Panvel and Pimpri-Chinchwad civic bodies by the BJP to back their demand.
Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said long-time MPs have been renominated after taking into consideration their organisational work and their work in the constituency.
“Our party chief Uddhav Thackeray has personally visited their constituencies and experienced first-hand the kind of work these MPs have put in for the party and constituency. They are consistent performers and have proved their worth to the voters. Their experience, their maturity and organisational skills have all stood them in good stead. Small wonder then that people continue to prefer them and so does the party,” she said.
WILL MEET UDDHAV, CONVINCE HIM: GAIKWAD
Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who was denied renomination from Osmanabad, said the nomination could be filed by next week, and he would get the party nod to contest from the seat by then. “I will approach party chief Uddhav Thackeray and convince him about my winning ability. I am sure he will change his mind,” said Gaikwad.
The Sena leader claimed he was denied the nomination as some “outsiders” who have been appointed office-bearers in his constituency had complained against him. “They have no right to do this. The party leadership has been misled by these people,” he said.
Gaikwad had sparked a controversy in March 2017 when he had assaulted an Air India staffer in Delhi. In 2014, he had tried to force-feed a Muslim caterer during Ramzan at the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi over the poor quality of chapatis.