THE SHIV Sena has decided to contest 50 out of the 243 Assembly seats in Bihar, but has said it is not targeting a specific party, including the BJP. On Thursday, the party released a list of 20 star campaigners, including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and state Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray.
“We are contesting 50 out of 243 Bihar Assembly seats. The Sena central office has released the list of star campaigners,” said Sena spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi.
Asked if the Chief Minister will campaign for the candidates of United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Chaturvedi said, “The CM will campaign for party candidates.”
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “Since the Sena has already decided to contest Bihar elections, we cannot comment on whether the CM will campaign for UPA or not.”
On October 6, Shiv Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut had expressed the possibility that the CM might hold “virtual” rallies for UPA candidates.
On Thursday, Raut said the Sena had no agenda against the BJP and it was not targeting a specific party. “We will be fielding candidates on the basis of their work in their constituencies. Sena has some good candidates who have worked for people in their constituencies. We will field them. But we have no agenda against the BJP or any other party,” he said.
Asked if there will be a tie-up with the UPA, Raut said, “Earlier, we were in alliance with the BJP but contested elections in Maharashtra independently. Similarly, we are in a tie-up with the UPA in Maharashtra but will contest elections in Bihar independently.”
On whether the Sena will support the UPA in other constituencies, Raut said, “Certainly, wherever the Sena is not contesting, we will support UPA candidates.”
He, however, said neither was there any dialogue with the UPA, nor had the party received an invitation.
Another Sena MP Anil Desai, who is close to the CM, said the Sena had secured over two lakh votes in the Bihar election five years ago.
“Following demands from local Shiv Sainiks in Bihar, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has given directions to prepare for Bihar elections. Accordingly, we are ready to contest the elections. In the last elections, we had secured over two lakh votes. This time, we will do even better,” he said.
He also said they were entering the fray in the backdrop of the “vicious” campaign against the Mumbai Police and the Sena in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. “Attempts were made to tarnish the image of the Mumbai Police. Allegations were made against the police. But reports from AIIMS and CBI make it clear that the allegations were baseless. Even the Supreme Court has said the Mumbai Police investigation was on the right track,” he told a television channel.
Desai said they would also field a candidate against former director general of police Gupteshwar Pandey if he contested the election. “The kind of drama he enacted and his subsequently joining a political party reveals that his entire act was politically motivated…” he said.