Kirit Somaiya, one of the BJP's most prominent faces in parliament, has paid heavily for defending his party against mercurial ally Shiv Sena. Under immense and unrelenting pressure from the Shiv Sena, the BJP has dropped the two-time lawmaker as a candidate for the national election starting April 11.
Kirit Somaiya has been the BJP MP from Mumbai twice. He is the only sitting parliamentarian to be dropped by the party in Mumbai this time. Manoj Kotak has been named the BJP candidate from Mumbai North East instead.
"Am very happy that Manoj Kotak got the ticket. We all will support him and ensure his win. Ultimately, our aim is a second term for (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji. Responsibilities within party keep shifting, there is nothing new in it," Kirit Somaiya told NDTV.
"We are happy that we have a candidate better than Kirit Somiaya," he grinned, adding that he was "prepared for any sacrifice" in his fight against corruption.
It is a considerable sacrifice for the BJP; in 2014, Mr Somaiya won the Mumbai North-East seat by over three lakhs.
The 65-year-old, a familiar sight during debates with a sheaf of documents and material to bolster his arguments, refused to censor himself while responding to the Sena's attacks on the BJP over the last few years. When there was acrimony between the Shiv Sena and the BJP after the 2014 general election and the Maharashtra polls, Mr Somaiya retaliated frequently.
As was widely expected in poll season, the Sena and the BJP patched up in February. But Kirit Somaiya, because of his "recklessness", ended up as a victim of that reconciliation.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray refused to forgive Kirit Somaiya's personal attacks, in response to his no-holds-barred jabs at the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sensing that he was in trouble, Kirit Somaiya had reportedly requested an appointment with Uddhav Thackeray to make amends but was denied one.
In 2016, Mr Somaiya had responded sharply to Mr Thackeray's dare to PM Modi to conduct "surgical strikes" on Swiss banks to bring back black money. He had said Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav "and Uddhav Thackeray" should clarify if they were worried about poor people or those with "boxes of money".
Mr Somaiya had also said he would expose "mafia" in Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and take on their "godfather", hinting at the Sena chief.
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