BJP's ally Shiv Sena had been bitterly opposed to Somaiya's candidature.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday released list of six candidates including those who will take on Sonia Gandhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav. While Dinesh Pratap Singh has been fielded from Raebareli against Sonia Gandhi, Prem Singh Shakya will contest against Mulayam from Mainpuri and Bhojpuri film star Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’ has been named BJP candidate from Azamgarh against Akhilesh Yadav.
However, one the major omissions in the BJP list is the name of Kirit Somaiya, who has won Mumbai North East seat twice. BJP’s ally Shiv Sena had been bitterly opposed to Somaiya’s candidature. And the BJP’s decision to replace him with Manoj Kotal underscores its keenness to keep its Hindutva ally in good humour.
Somaiya, an old BJP hand and one of its leading speakers on economic issues in Parliament, had been a vocal critic of the Shiv Sena.The 65-year-old leader had won the 2014 Lok Sabha election by over three lakh votes, however, Somaiya’s consistent criticism of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has cost him big.
In an apparent attempt to make amends, 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.
Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Raut, brother of Sanjay Raut, had recently said that he was ready to contest election from Mumbai North East if need be.
“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,” Raut had said.