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Shiv Sena Plans To Contest Gujarat Assembly Polls On Its Own:- A senior party official said in Mumbai on Thursday that the Shiv Sena plans to contest between 50-60 seats in the Gujarat Assembly polls on its own. This move of the Shiv Sena will indeed be to thumb its nose at ally Bharatiya Janata Party.
To finalize its candidates and political strategy, a high-level team of the party is currently camping in the neighboring State. The party is led by Gujarati Wing Coordinator and senior municipal corporator from Oshiwara Rajul Patel and another leader Hemraj Shah.
“We shall put up candidates in these constituencies, spread mainly between Surat to Ahmedabad, which has a large Maharashtrian-origin population, and even extending to pockets beyond upto Rajkot,” Patel said.
This is because a large number of people originating from north Maharashtra, are either living or working in different parts of south Gujarat and other areas. The Shiv Sena has a significant stronghold in Maharashtra.
“They are strong believers of our Hindutva agenda and we are going to concentrate on this large chunk in the elections.
“However, Shiv Sena will not enter into any alliance with any party, though the final decision will be taken only by our President Uddhav Thackeray,” she explained.
In the past in Gujarat, Sena - an ally of the BJP has contested both at the Centre and in Maharashtra, said party officials in Mumbai. In at least three assemblies, the Sena managed to dent the ruling BJP. To arrest “the twin influence of BJP President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, the decision to contest independently in Gujarat is part of a long-term strategy. To avoid “split in the Hindu votes”,the Sena had stayed away in 2012, ostensibly, a party source said.
But, this time the situation is drastically different and the Sena is hopeful of making its influence felt there, given the current sentiments in Gujarat and other parts of the country.
Thackeray has met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar and West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee in the pas few days, as part of the strategy. The young leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, Hardik Patel was also invited by the Sena for a meeting in Mumbai in February.
At a media gathering later on Thursday evening, the Sena is likely to make an announcement of its entry into the Gujarat elections.