Mumbai: Sanjay Nirupam, who was removed on Monday as the chief of the Congress Mumbai unit, has been fielded from the Mumbai Northwest seat. Milind Deora has taken over as the chief of the city unit. Sanjay Nirupam is now free to focus on his campaign.
Nirupam had been trying to shift from the Mumbai North seat, which he lost by a huge margin of nearly 4.5 lakh votes to the BJP’s Gopal Shetty in 2014. However, he has a better chance of winning the Mumbai Northwest seat where he takes on Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar.
The Congress is yet to find a candidate to take on Gopal Shetty. The BJP, too, is in a fix over the Mumbai Northeast seat.
Its sitting MLA Kirit Somaiya won the seat last time by a margin of over 3.17 lakh votes, but the party is having trouble convincing ally Shiv Sena to back him.
When the Sena had announced it would go solo in 2019 and attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Somaiya had launched a personal attack on the Thackerays. The Sena hasn’t forgotten and wants to ensure his defeat at any cost.
Sources say Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also intervened on Mr Somaiya’s behalf, but the Sena has remained firm on its resolve.
BJP leaders privately concede that the Sena could make things difficult in Marathi-dominated pockets of the constituency.
There, however, is no move to drop Mr Somaiya yet. The BJP has considered alternative candidates like the state’s Housing Minister Prakash Mehta. But the party is keen on giving the ticket to Mr Somaiya as he is popular in the constituency.