Prakash Mehta supporters vandalise car of candidate chosen over him
Prakash Mehta had to intervene to quell the anger so with folded hands, he appealed to his supporters to not indulge in violence
Angry supporters of Prakash Mehta went on a rampage after the BJP dropped his name while announcing the final list of candidates for the Assembly election and declared Parag Shah as its official candidate from Ghatkopar, held by Mehta since 1990.
Sources said Shah and former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had come to see Mehta at his Ghatkopar residence and while leaving around 11.15 am, one of his bodyguards nudged a senior party functionary, leading to a chaos. Already enraged over denial of ticket to Mehta, his staunch supporters and smashed windshields of Shah's car. One of them even banged his head on the vehicle in protest.
Mehta had to intervene to quell the anger. With folded hands, he appealed to his supporters to not indulge in violence. The mob cooled off, but started shouting slogans, requesting Mehta to contest as an Independent even as Shah and Somaiya left in another car.
'Mehta orchestrated the drama'
A group of BJP leaders said Mehta could have orchestrated the drama after having lost his seat to Shah — a BMC corporator and one of the richest candidates in the city with assets over R480 crore. "Mehta should have quit in a dignified manner and gracefully after holding the post for six terms. The drama was unnecessary," a local party functionary said.
Parag Shah's damaged car
Mehta refuted the allegation and said, "It looks like the drama has been done deliberatley by someone. I was not there when the attack happened. As far as I have heard, Shah's bodyguards pushed our senior party functionary which led to the chaos. Not just Shah's car, but mine and few others' were damaged too." Several attempts by this newspaper to contact Shah went unanswered.
Shock and tension
Ticket denial to Mehta has left several party functionaries at Ghatkopar district office shocked. Ironically, it was six-time MLA Mehta who had brought Shah in to replace a senior party leader during 2017 BMC elections and now he has himself been replaced by Shah.
"We were shocked to receive the news, because Prakashbhai is the one who has built a strong support base for the party in the constituency. Nevertheless, we will ensure that the candidate chosen by the party wins the seat," Srinivas Tripathi, district general secretary said. "We saw the real strength of Mehta after delimitation in 2009 when the pockets of Ramabai Nagar were added to the constituency. We saw the complex slum pockets and population there and we're confused, but Mehta was confident and we won. Even today, his strongest supporters are from Ramabai Nagar," BJP North-East Mumbai General Secretary Sanjay Singh.
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