Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Raut on contesting poll: Ready to contest from Mumbai NE, if needed
Amid uncertainty over the candidature of sitting BJP MP Kirit Somaiya from Mumbai North East Lok Sabha seat, Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Raut Thursday said he was ready to contest the election from the constituency if there was a need.
The Shiv Sena has been vehemently opposing the candidature of Somaiya, as it is miffed with his consistent criticism of party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
There are reports that Somaiya had recently sought time for a meeting with Thackeray and Sena MP Sanjay Raut. However, both of them had reportedly refused to meet him. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Sunil Raut, brother of Sanjay Raut, said there will be no opposition to any candidate, apart from Somaiya.
"Due to the allegations levelled by Somaiya against Thackeray in the last 3-4 years, not only Shiv Sena, but the people of the constituency and all Marathi-speaking people are opposing him. Even if he is given a ticket by mistake, I assure you that the BJP will lose the seat," he said.
He added that except Somaiya, if any other candidate, either belonging to the BJP or the Sena, will win the seat as there is tremendous anger against him even within his own party. "Somaiya has not maintained any ties with the people of his constituency...We see 'Matoshree' (Thackeray's residence) as a temple.
But if he makes allegations against it and calls (Thackeray) a mafia don, there cannot even be an attempt to give him a ticket," Raut, who represents Vikhroli Assembly constituency, said.
When asked whether he himself would contest the election if Somaiya was given a ticket, he said he had faith in Thackeray that he would take a decision that will benefit the Sena and the Marathi-speaking people. "A time will not come wherein I need to contest. However, if there is a need, I am ready," Raut said. In 2014, Somaiya had defeated Sanjay Dina Patil of the NCP.
While the Sharad Pawar-led party has fielded him again, the BJP is yet to announce its candidate. Polling for Lok Sabha election in Mumbai North East seat will be held on April 29 in the fourth phase of general elections. The last day of filing of nominations is April 9.