2019 Assembly poll fight in Latur Rural 'fixed': BJP leader

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Mumbai, Jan 28 (PTI) The 2019 Assembly poll contest in the Latur Rural segment in Marathwada was fixed, former Maharashtra Minister and BJP leader Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar has alleged.

Maharashtra Minister and Congress leader Amit Deshmukhs younger brother Dhiraj had emerged victorious from the seat in Latur district securing 1,35,006 votes in the election.

The option of NOTA (None of the Above) had claimed second slot in the Assembly segment, where Shiv Sena candidate Sachin Deshmukh, with paltry 13,524 votes, was relegated to a distant third position.

Congress MLA Dhiraj Deshmukh on Thursday dismissed the claims made by Patil Nilangekar, who hails from Latur district, and said the latter should comment on 'whether or not there was a settingin ticket distribution' between the Shiv Sena and the BJP, who were allies in the 2019 polls.

Speaking at an event in Latur on Wednesday, Patil Nilangekar said the Latur Rural seat was in the BJPs quota during the days of the partys alliance with the Shiv Sena.

He said the BJP had fought election from the seat in 2014 and garnered around 93,000 votes.

The party could have won from the seat in 2019 had it contested again from there, the BJP leader said.

However, the Shiv Sena, the BJPs then ally, insisted on contesting the election from the rural constituency, he claimed.

The BJP and the Shiv Sena had contested the 2019 Assembly polls together, but the two parties snapped ties after results due to differences over sharing chief ministerial post.

The Shiv Sena later formed government in the state in alliance with the NCP and the Congress, its then political opponents.

It was a seat in BJPs quota. BJPs Ramesh Karad had secured around 93,000 votes in the 2014 polls. But suddenly the Shiv Sena insisted on contesting the election from the seat in the 2019 polls, Patil Nilangekar said.

The BJP leader said the Shiv Sena fielded a candidate from the seat who was not known to anyone locally.

The former minister claimed the Shiv Sena candidate did not even campaign and had disappeared after filing nomination papers.

Even Shiv Sainiks (Sena workers) had then written posts (on social media) about their candidate going missing.

Such was the situation.

...the Latur Rural Assembly seat was fixed...It happened at high-level...What happened was a murder of democracy. I felt pained, Patil Nilangekar alleged, without naming anyone.

He claimed the contest in the Latur Rural segment was fixed in return of extending help in another constituency in Mumbai where the winning candidate (Dhiraj Deshmukh) lives.

Patil Nilangekar was apparently referring to the Worli Assembly seat, which was won by Shiv Senas Aaditya Thackeray, the son of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the current Tourism Minister.

You may fix a contest once, but next time you wont win. I must tell you that the people (from Latur Rural) will not forgive you, Patil Nilangekar said.

Dhiraj Deshmukh dismissed Patil Nilangekar's claims while speaking to a Marathi news channel in Mumbai.

It is his statement. He only can comment on it better, on what was the ticket distribution equation in his party. We, the Congress and NCP, had shared seats as per alliance dharma,' Dhiraj Deshmukh said.

He said the BJP leader should speak on ticket distribution with its then ally Shiv Sena.

'They (the BJP) and the Shiv Sena were in alliance (then). So, he only can comment betterwhether there was a settingor not in ticket distribution (in the alliance between Sena-BJP), Dhiraj Deshmukh said. PTI ENM RSY RSY