Last year, tribal leader Rajendra Gavit crossed over to the BJP from the Congress and won the Palghar Lok Sabha seat in a bypoll, and on Tuesday he joined its ally Shiv Sena which nominated him from the same constituency.
As part of the pre-poll alliance between the BJP and the Sena, the Palghar seat adjoining Mumbai has fallen in the latter’s kitty.
However, apparently unable to find a strong candidate in its ranks, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party has now got the BJP MP to fight the April 29 polls at its official candidate from the seat reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
The Palghar Lok Sabha seat fell vacant last year following the death of sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanga. In the bypoll, the BJP and the Sena, though allies in Maharashtra and at the Centre, fought against each other.
The BJP had fielded Gavit, while the Sena gave ticket to Chintaman Wanga’s son Sriniwas Wanga, who lost.
“In the seat-sharing pact, the Sena has received the Palghar seat. During the previous bypoll, I had publicly announced that I want Sriniwas Wanga to go to Parliament and I am firm on my commitment,” Sena president Uddhav Thackeray told reporters after Gavit’s induction in the party.
Thackeray said in the past few months, Wanga has taken a stock of the Palghar constituency and is of the view that he should first work there as a member of the Legislative Assembly and later as an MP.
“I have given my word to him to send him to Parliament. However, since he wants to work as an MLA first, I will send him to the state legislature,” he said.
Thackeray said Gavit has worked in the constituency in the past 8-9 months and therefore, instead of giving the ticket to somebody else, he found it appropriate to induct him into the Sena and field him from Palghar.
He said the Sena will field Narendra Patil, a labour leader, from the Satara Lok Sabha seat in western Maharashtra.
With this, the Sena has declared the names of candidates for all the 23 Lok Sabha seats that it is contesting in Maharashtra.
Opposition NCP took a dig at Thackeray over the candidature of Gavit.
“By snatching Sriniwas Wanga from the BJP and making him fight the Palghar bypoll (last year) and now denying him a ticket shows how Sena president Uddhav Thackeray takes care of children of other politicians,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.