Shiv Sena backs MES candidate in Belgaum; Raut campaigns, holds roadshow
Throwing its weight behind Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut campaigned for MES’s Shubham Shelke in Belgaum, Karnataka on Wednesday. However, Raut said the stage of the public rally he was scheduled to address was damaged before he arrived and instead staged a roadshow in Belgaum to campaign for Shelke.
Belgaum will go to polls April 17 as a bypoll was necessitated after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Suresh Angadi died due to Covid-19 in September 2020.
The region is particularly important for the Sena as these areas have a majority of Marathi-speaking population. Earlier in January, Sena chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had aggressively raised the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute and sought that the disputed areas be made Union Territory till the issue is resolved legally.
“Shutting down the campaign rally of an opponent by destroying the stage, microphones and sound system despite permissions is against the democracy and the Election Commission rules. Whoever has given these orders, including the returning officer and district collector, have violated the Constitution today. This is oppression, but it does not affect us; we have been fighting against this injustice. I have come here at the orders of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. The people of Maharashtra are with Belgaum,” Raut told reporters in Belgaum.
There is a triangular contest in Belgaum with the MES, BJP and Congress fielding candidates for the sear. The BJP has given the ticket to Mangala Angadi, wife of a former MP, while the Congress fielded Satish Jarkiholi. Shelke could make a dent into the BJP votes as the Marathi-speaking voters could back the party that seeks to include the region in Maharashtra.
According to Raut, Shelke is giving a tough fight to the BJP as the national party has deployed Union ministers from Maharashtra to campaign. He said MES and Sena have come together to give “active support” to the young candidate. “It is clear that the MES candidate is giving a tough fight to other candidates. Karnataka CM campaigned here on Wednesday; tomorrow Nitin Gadkari is going to campaign —with such people coming to campaign, it shows that Shelke is giving a tough fight,” Raut said.