The victory of Rutuja Latke in the Andheri (East) Assembly bypoll shows people are supporting Shiv Sena, party president Uddhav Thackeray said on Sunday.
Latke, who contested the byelection as the candidate of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) faction with the support of NCP and Congress, has emerged victorious. ”This is just the beginning of a fight. The (party) symbol is important but people look for the character too. The bypoll results show people support us,” Thackeray told reporters after Rutuja Latke called on him at his residence ‘Matoshree’ after the victory.
He said the name of Shiv Sena and the party symbol (bow and arrow) were frozen (by the Election Commission) ahead of this election. ”This victory is a beginning of a fight. I appeal to Shiv Sainiks to fight unitedly for all future battles. Our party’s name and symbol were frozen for this election but those who wanted this are nowhere near the electoral ring,” Thackeray said in a veiled swipe at the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Targetting the BJP, which had withdrawn its candidate for the bypoll at the last moment, he said Shiv Sena’s opponents backed out of the race sensing defeat.
Queried on more than 12,000 notes polled in favour of the NOTA option in the bypoll, Thackeray said, ”Had our opponents been in the poll fray, their candidate would have secured the same number of NOTA votes”.