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BJP’s Andheri By-Election Withdrawal Was Scripted, Says Sena MP Sanjay Raut

In a day of fast developments, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has alleged that the BJP asked MNS leader Raj Thackeray to write a letter urging Devendra Fadnavis to withdraw from Andheri (east) assembly by-election since an internal BJP survey had shown that it would lose to Shiv Sena (Uddhav) candidate by about 45000 votes. “What Raj had written was according to a script prepared beforehand.” Raut told reporters at the session’s court where he was brought for a hearing. He was reacting to Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule’s announcement about the withdrawal by the BJP from the crucial fight. Similar theories abound about the chain of events that led to the final BJP decision to opt out. First, Raj wrote a letter to BJP. It was supported by NCP president Sharad Pawar and CM Eknath Shinde’s confidant Pratap Sarnaik, Thane MLA. Fadnavis declared that the BJP would give a serious consideration to it in view of the appeal that a deceased’s spouse should be allowed to get elected unopposed. The culmination was Bawankule’s endorsement. In a related development, Raj has written another letter to Fadnavis on Monday, thanking his ‘Dear Friend’ for showing the magnanimity to withdraw from the fray. However, BJP candidate Murji Patel’s supporters were not happy, they shouted slogans against Raj after their leader withdrew from the by-election. But Patel said he was a disciplined soldier of the BJP and hence withdrew the moment he was asked to.