The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction on Wednesday alleged that Rutuja Latke, its candidate for the November 3 byelection to Andheri East assembly seat in Mumbai, was being pressured by the Eknath Shinde camp to contest on their ticket.
The byelection, necessitated by the death of incumbent Sena MLA and Rutuja’s husband Ramesh Latke, would be the first electoral test for the Uddhav Thackeray faction following the split in the party in June this year.
After the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government collapsed in June, Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra along with BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis as deputy CM.
Rutuja Latke on Wednesday said she has not met CM Shinde and maintained that she will contest the bypoll on the Thackeray faction's 'mashaal' symbol.
Talking to reporters in Mumbai, former Maharashtra minister Anil Parab, belonging to the Thackeray faction, claimed Rutuja Latke's resignation as an administrative officer in the K ward of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was not being accepted in order to force her to contest as the Shinde group's candidate.
If her resignation is not accepted in the next two days, she would not be able to file her nomination papers by October 14, a party leader earlier said.
Parab said Rutuja Latke has moved the high court in this matter, and expressed confidence that she will remain loyal to the Thackeray-led Sena faction.
"The Andheri East seat belonged to the Shiv Sena. We will contest and win. You will know our next course of action if Rutuja Latke is unable to contest," he said.
Parab also said Rutuja need not buckle under pressure to keep her out of the poll fray or make her contest as the Shinde faction candidate.
He said BMC commissioner I S Chahal was not giving reasons why her resignation was not being accepted.
She resigned on September 2, but was told recently that her letter was not in proper format. She has given a fresh resignation letter which is yet to be accepted, Parab said.
When reporters asked Rutuja Latke if she was under pressure, she said, "Do I look so?"
She expressed confidence that her resignation from the BMC will be accepted.
"Like my late husband, my loyalty is with Uddhav Thackeray," she told reporters outside the BMC commissioner's office.
The Congress and NCP have pledged support to the Thackeray-led Sena faction in the bypoll.
The BJP is likely to field Murji Patel from the constituency.