The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), a pro-Maharashtra outfit which has considerable influence on the Marathi speaking population of the border areas has said its supporters could vote for any political party of their choice.
Kiran Thakur, president of the city unit of the MES told Express on Thursday that the MES is not supporting any particular political party in the current Lok Sabha elections.
“As MES does not have its own candidate contesting the elections, it has decided not to support any particular political party. Marathi speaking people are free to vote according to their choice,” he said.
Both the BJP and the Congress were trying to get MES’s support as close to 2 lakh Marathi voters are the deciding factor in Belgaum constituency.
The MES has two MLAs — Sambhajirao Patil (Belgaum South) and Arvind Patil (Khanapur) in the district. Sambhajirao Patil was seen in the rallies and meetings conducted by Congress candidate Laxmi Hebbalkar.
BJP and Congress leaders from Maharashtra were pressuring local MES leaders to announce support to their respective parties.
Thakur said a meeting was held in which MES leaders and corporators participated and it was unanimously decided that MES should not support any particular political party.
He said it was also decided that the MES leaders should not take part in the campaigning of any political parties.
He said Marathi voters would vote according to their conscience. He appealed to the Marathi voters to vote compulsorily.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena candidate Hanumanth Majukar, who is in the fray, has taken objection to the decision of MES leaders. He told Express that the MES could have extended its support to him as Shiv Sena has fought for the dignity of Marathi people living in the border areas.
He said as many as 69 Shiv Sainiks were killed in police firings during an agitation over the Karnataka-Maharashtra boder. He said Marathi people will vote for him.