Former Union Ministers, father-son rivalry, wrestler: Shiv Sena (UBT) first list of candidates covers all; Congress objects 

The Uddhav-led Sena is expected to contest 20 seats. The Maha Vikas Aghadi has not yet announced the seat-sharing agreement.

Updated - March 28, 2024 12:01 am IST

Published - March 27, 2024 10:29 am IST - Mumbai

MLA Vishwajeet Kadam submitting a representation for Vishal Patil’s candidature for Sangli Lok Sabha seat to AICC general secretary (organisation) K. C. Venugopal in New Delhi on March 27.

MLA Vishwajeet Kadam submitting a representation for Vishal Patil’s candidature for Sangli Lok Sabha seat to AICC general secretary (organisation) K. C. Venugopal in New Delhi on March 27. | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The Shiv Sena (UBT), a partner in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), on Wednesday released its first list of 17 candidates, which had no female candidates, for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. The announcement sparked strong criticism from their coalition partner, the Congress, for declaring candidates for two seats — Sangli and Mumbai South-Central — despite ongoing talks to finalise the seat-sharing formula in the crucial western State. Maharashtra sends 48 MPs to the Lok Sabha, after Uttar Pradesh with 80 seats. The State will vote in five phases starting from April 19. 

The grand old party’s leaders said that the MVA partners must stick to ‘coalition dharma’ and asked the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena to reconsider its decision. “Announcing candidates while discussions are still on is an insult to ‘Aghadi dharma’,” Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat and Vijay Wadettiwar said. Mr. Thorat said their party was firm on contesting from Sangli, Bhiwandi, and Mumbai’s South-Central. 

Mumbai Congress Committee chief and Dalit leader Varsha Gaikwad, who was looking to contest from the South-Central constituency, said that the Sena (UBT) should not have unilaterally announced candidates for those two seats, where consensus among the allies is yet to be reached. “We have expressed our displeasure with our party leaders and will take further steps as directed…,” the Dharavi MLA said. While Congress MLA Vishwajeet Kadam met All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal in New Delhi, urging the party to nominate Vishal Patil, the grandson of former Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil, for the Sangli Lok Sabha seat. The Sena (UBT) fielded wrestler Chandrahar Patil from Sangli, and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai from the South-Central seats.   

“Sangli is a stronghold of Congress. It is the sentiment of the leaders and ordinary workers that Sangli Lok Sabha should be won by the Congress. I have already made a demand to the senior leaders of the Congress party,” Mr. Kadam said. 

The list of candidates includes former Union Ministers Anant Geete from the Raigad constituency and Arvind Sawant from the South Mumbai constituency. The party has also reaffirmed the nomination of all five incumbent MPs who stayed loyal to its leader and former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray following the 2022 split. 

Additionally, the Uddhav-led Sena has chosen its youth wing leader, Amol Kirtikar, to contest from Mumbai’s North-West seat, currently represented by his father, Gajanan Kirtikar, who has since aligned with the Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Intriguingly, should the Shinde-led Sena nominate Mr. Gajanan Kirtikar, it sets the stage for a father-son electoral battle in the State capital. Former Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam, who was aiming to contest the seat, expressed his unhappiness over Sena (UBT) fielding Mr. Amol Kirtikar and slammed his party leaders for letting the saffron party grab most seats in Mumbai. 

“I will wait for a week for the Congress leadership to take a call… after which I am open to all the options. They (the Sena UBT) should not take the extreme stand. This will cause a huge loss to the Congress. I want to attract the attention of the Congress leadership to intervene, if not then break the alliance to save the party. The decision of an alliance with the Shiv Sena will prove self-destructive for Congress,” Mr. Nirupam said. 

The line-up also includes Rajan Vichare for Thane, Sanjay Patil for Mumbai North-East, Vinayak Raut for Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg and Omraje Nimbalkar for Dharashiv (previously Osmanabad). Parbhani MP Sanjay Jadav has been renominated, while the party is fielding former MP Chandrakanth Khaire from the Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (previously Aurangabad) constituency. There was speculation that the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Ambadas Danve, who was hopeful for the party ticket from Aurangabad, was considering defecting to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Sena led by Mr. Shinde.  

The party also fielded Narendra Khedekar for Buldhana, Sanjog Waghere for Maval, and Nagesh Patil for Hingoli. While the roster signed by Mr. Thackeray included the names of 16 candidates, the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut announced the candidature of his fellow Upper House member, Mr. Desai, running for the South-Central seat on social media platform X. Mr. Thackeray had announced 11 of these candidates during his recent visit to respective constituencies. 

Key insiders told The Hindu that the grand old party is firm on fielding Mr. Vishal Patil from Sangli and Ms. Gaikwad from Mumbai South-Central, even if the Sena (UBT) fails to reconsider its decision. “They can’t do such mischiefs. If they want, they can break the alliance and announce candidates for all 48 seats,” a senior Congress leader said. 

The Congress has declared its candidates for the majority of seats where there is no tussle with its alliance partners and is yet to take a call on Bhiwandi, where the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar) (NCP-SP) is also staking a claim. The NCP(SP) has not yet announced its candidate line-up for the upcoming polls. 

The Shiv Sena (UBT) list also includes Sanjay Deshmukh from Yavatmal-Washim, Bhausaheb Wakchaure from the temple town of Shirdi and Rajabhau Waje from Nashik. The party is yet to announce its candidate from the Kalyan-Dombivli Lok Sabha constituency currently represented by Shrikant Shinde, the son of Mr. Shinde. “We will contest a total of 22 seats. Candidates for five seats will be announced in the next two days for Palghar, Kalyan-Dombivli, Mumbai North, Hatkanangale, and Jalgaon. The names have been finalised,” Mr. Sanjay Raut said, adding that Raju (Devappa Anna) Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana wanted to contest from the Hatkanangale seat with the support of their party. 

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