Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has written to Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis with an unexpected request.
The BJP, he wrote, should not field a candidate in the Andheri (East)
by-election so Rutuja Latke, who is contesting in place of her husband Ramesh Latke, the Shiv Sena MLA who died in earlier this year, can win.
"I think by doing this we are paying tribute to the late representative of the people," he wrote in the letter addressed to "Dear friend Devendra". "To do so is also in line with the great culture of our Maharashtra. I hope you will accept my request," he added.
Ramesh Latke was a "good worker," Mr Thackeray wrote.
"He started his political journey from the post of branch chief. I am a witness to his political journey. After his death, if his wife becomes an MLA, then the soul of Ramesh will rest in peace," wrote Raj Thackeray.
An MLA from the Shinde faction, Pratap Sarnaik, has also written a letter requesting Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to have the BJP's Murji Patel drop out of the race against Rutuja Latke, who is a candidate of Uddhav Thackeray's Sena faction.
Today is the last day to withdraw the candidature for Andheri East Bypoll.
The MNS chief had formed his own party in 2006 after breaking away from the Shiv Sena following differences with Uddhav Thackeray.
There has been no response to the letter from the BJP. Murji Patel, the BJP candidate, has said that he is ready to withdraw from the race if the party asked him.
Raj Thackeray's letter comes amid a bitter tussle between the two Sena factions over the coming election and the larger question of inheriting the legacy of party founder Bal Thackeray.
The BJP had backed the rebellion by Sena's Eknath Shinde that toppled the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Uddhav Thackeray in June.
The faction led by Mr Thackeray has already critcised the BJP for making a contest necessary. It has also accused the Eknath Shinde faction of trying to sabotage their candidate ahead of the elections by influencing the Mumbai civic body not to accept her resignation.
Ms Latke, who worked in the Brihanmumbai Corporation as a clerk, had to approach the courts and filed her nomination only after a court order.