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Andheri East by-poll: Raj Thackeray writes to Fadnavis, requests BJP not to contest

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Mumbai, Oct 16: Maharashtra Navirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has written to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis not to field a candidate from the BJP for the upcoming by-poll of the Andheri East Assembly constituency.

Andheri East by-poll: Raj Thackeray writes to Fadnavis, requests BJP not to contest

Raj Thackeray, in a letter that he shared on his social media page, said that the MNS will not be contesting the November 3 byelection in reverence to late MLA Ramesh Latke, whose death has necessitated the election. "I sincerely request you not to enter the byelection and field a candidate against Rutuja Latke. I have witnessed late Ramesh Latke's journey and growth in the political arena." Ramesh Latke, the sitting MLA from Andheri East, died of a cardiac arrest in May this year.

Responding to his request, Fadnavis said, "I will have to discuss the issue with our party leaders and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. I admit that he sent the letter in good faith, but we will seriously discuss it." "The final decision will be taken only after a discussion with the senior leadership in the party. I alone can't decide about it. The candidates have already filed their nominations as well," the BJP leader stated.

"In earlier instances when there was proper communication, we had decided not to contest bypolls. For instance, when NCP leader and former home minister RR Patil had died. It is not like we (BJP) never considered opting out of a byelection. Whenever there is a proper communication or appeal to made to us, we have responded properly," he said.

Fadnavis further stated that BJP leader Ashish Shelar had met Raj Thackeray at latter's residence during the day with a request to support the BJP's candidate in the bypolls, PTI reported.

"Raj expressed his wish to Shelar that the BJP should not contest the election. Now, he has written to me as well," the deputy chief minister said.

Rutuja Latke, speaking to reporters, said, "I had earlier thought that this will be a unanimous election, but I am ready to fight the bypoll."

Meanwhile, BJP MLC Prasad Lad said, "Neither Uddhav Thackeray nor any of his colleagues contacted the BJP requesting or appealing to its leaders to not contest the bypolls. They were sitting in their ivory tower." "The decision of not contesting the bye-poll will be taken by leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Ashish Shelar, who is the Mumbai BJP unit chief," he said.

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