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Sena announces 21 candidates, drops MP who slapped AI employee

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uddhav thacereyThe Shiv Sena Friday declared its first list of 21 candidates in Maharashtra for next month’s Lok Sabha polls, retaining 17 sitting MPs and denying ticket to the lawmaker who had allegedly slapped an Air India employee in 2017.

Ravindra Gaikwad, the 59-year-old MP from Osmanabad constituency, had hit an Air India staffer with a slipper at the IGI Airport in New Delhi and then openly boasted about it.

The Sena replaced Gaikwad, who briefly faced a travel ban by airlines for his act, with Omraje Nimbalkar in Osmanabad in central Maharashtra.

Another Sena Member of Parliament, Rajan Vichare, who was accused of force-feeding a canteen employee on fast during Ramzan in 2014, has been fielded again from Thane.

As per the pre-poll alliance sealed by the BJP and the Shiv Sena, the former will contest on 25 seats and the latter on 23 out of the Lok Sabha 48 constituencies in Maharashtra.

Of these 23 seats, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party announced candidates on 21, leaving out two constituencies — Palghar and Satara — in the first list.

Currently, the Palghar seat adjoining Mumbai has a BJP MP, but the Sena has staked its claim to the constituency.

“We will announce the names of remaining candidates by Sunday,” senior Sena leader and Maharashtra minister Subhash Desai told reporters here after releasing the list.

The constituency-wise list of Sena candidates: South Mumbai-Arvind Sawant; South Central Mumbai-Rahul Shewale; Mumbai North West-Gajanan Kirtikar; Kalyan-Shrikant Shinde; Raigad-Anant Gite; Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat-Vinayak Raut; Kolhapur-Sanjay Mandlik; Hatkanangle-Dhairyasheel Mane; Nashik-Hemant Godse; Shirdi-Sadashiv Lokhande; Shirur-Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil; Aurangabad-Chandrakant Khaire; Yavatmal Washim-Bhawana Gawli; Buldana-Prataprao Jadhav; Ramtek-Kripal Tumane; Amravati-Anandrao Adsul; Parbhani-Sanjay Jadhav; Maval-Shrirang Barne; Hingoli-Hemant Patil, Osmanabad-Omraje Nimbalkar and Thane-Rajan Vichare.

Months after his election in 2014, Vichare had courted controversy by forcefully feeding a canteen employee who was observing Ramzan fast in Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi.

The Sena had defended Vichare and his associates involved in the incident, saying they did not know the canteen employee was a Muslim and was observing Ramzan fast.

The party had clarified Vichare and others were irked over poor quality of food being served in the canteen.

In 2014, the Sena had contested on 20 Lok Sabha seats in the state and won 18.

Meanwhile, former NCP legislator and labour leader Narendra Patil called on Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at his residence ‘Matoshree’ here.

According to a Sena source, the party may field Patil, who is also a prominent Maratha community leader, from Satara, a stronghold of the NCP.

The Sharad Pawar-led party has already renominated its sitting MP Udayanraje Bhosale from Satara in western Maharashtra.

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