Rumble in the BJP Bronx? 'Ticketless' Jalgaon MP cozying up to Shiv Sena-UBT

by IANS |

Mumbai, April 2 (IANS) Shiv Sena (UBT) President and ex-Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray had an unexpected visitor – the sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Jalgaon Unmesh B. Patil, raising more than just political eyebrows, here on Tuesday.

Patil (52) was a BJP MLA for a term when he got the ticket to contest from Jalgaon in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections – and he did not let the party down.

He created a record – winning the seat with the second-highest votes, 7,13,874 (65.6 per cent), and the third-highest victory margin of 4,11,617 votes.

Incidentally, this was rivalled by BJP's Gopal C. Shetty from the Mumbai North seat, who secured the highest victory margin of 4,65,247 votes from his total vote count of 7,06,678 (71.40 per cent).

However, both Patil and Shetty have been dropped by the BJP for 2024, disappointing their supporters and even the constituents.

Patil has been sidelined in favour of BJP MLA Smita Uday Wagh, a former state BJP women’s wing chief, while Shetty was edged out for Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s maiden LS contest.

Before meeting Thackeray, a miffed Patil held preparatory meetings with the party’s chief spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut, and other leaders, paving the way for his possible entry into the SS (UBT).

On Tuesday afternoon, SS (UBT)’s senior leader in Jalgaon, Sanjay Sawant, told the media that “you will get the news of Unmesh Patil very soon”, hinting at today or tomorrow, plus the possibility of being nominated by the SS (UBT) for the same (Jalgaon) constituency.

In the political circles of Jalgaon, it is claimed that Patil was livid at being replaced for the Lok Sabha polls by Wagh, and he had made his displeasure known to the party bigwigs.

In case Patil decides to switch sides, it will mark the first major ‘incoming’ into the SS (UBT) from a rival party, and make the election scenario even more exciting.

As per current indications, Patil, along with his politician-wife Sampada and a large number of supporters and party leaders, may hop onto the SS (UBT) bandwagon.

Earlier, there was speculation that Sampada Unmesh Patil could switch sides to one of the mainstream political parties in the state in return for the Jalgaon seat, but there have been no further developments on this.

However, when Raut was quizzed, he claimed that he was not certain about the Patil couple’s future strategy, but they had sought time to think on the matter.

Meanwhile, Jalgaon was considered a bastion of the (undivided) Shiv Sena, and presently, all the legislators there belong to the ruling MahaYuti - three from the Shiv Sena led by CM Eknath Shinde, two MLAs from the BJP, and one from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Ajit Pawar.

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