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Raj fields Sena rebel

Mumbai, March 15: Raj Thackeray-led MNS today named a former Shiv Sena student wing leader as its candidate from Thane Lok Sabha constituency, making him the seventh candidate fielded against the rival party.

Abhijit Panse, who till recently headed the Sena’s student wing, the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS), will be pitted against Sena’s Rajan Vichare and the NCP’s Sanjeev Naik, the sitting MP.

Panse had played a key role in launching the Yuva Sena headed by Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya. Removed as the president of the BVS a year ago, Panse had joined the MNS on the party’s eighth anniversary on March 9.

On the same day, Raj had announced seven candidates, six of which were in the constituencies the Sena was contesting. The move had created an impression that the MNS aimed to divide the traditional Marathi votes.

The MNS has so far named only two candidates in constituencies contested by the BJP.

Raj’s meeting with Nitin Gadkari and the declaration of support for Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate have irked Sena boss Uddhav, forcing both Modi and BJP president Rajnath Singh to placate him.