The BJP withdrew its candidate for the upcoming Andheri poll in Maharashtra. It will be the first significant poll in the state since the collapse of the MVA government in the wake of a split in Shiv Sena.

The result of BJP’s decision is that Rutuja Latke, candidate of Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray faction, is almost guaranteed. The poll is due to the disappearance of Ramesh Latke who won in the last election.

The BJP’s decision to withdraw its candidate was preceded by public pressure from other political parties to do so. The reason is that Maharashtra’s political tradition has been to allow the relatives of deceased candidates to win unchallenged. This comes with a caveat. Sharad Pawar, who was among the politicians asking the BJP to withdraw his candidate, said that if an MLA in office dies three or four years before the next election, real competition makes sense.

On some level, this is an unusual development these days. The poll follows a bitter split in Shiv Sena, which helped the BJP re-form the government. In this context, sticking to tradition is encouraging. The fact that the survey’s outcome does not affect government stability is likely to have played a role in what happened.

On the other hand, are Maharashtra’s major political parties fair to voters? Why should they assume that voters may want to automatically transfer their allegiance to relatives of a deceased legislator?

Read also: BJP withdraws candidate from Andheri East’s poll



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