Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday urged Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis not to field a candidate for the upcoming bye-election for the Andheri (East) Assembly constituency in Mumbai.

The bye-election, slated for November 3, was necessitated by the death of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke. The legislator died due to a cardiac arrest in Dubai on May 11.

The faction of the Shiv Sena led by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has fielded his wife Rutuja Latke for the bye-election. The Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress have supported her candidature.

Meanwhile, the BJP has fielded Murji Patel for the election. Patel is the joint candidate of the BJP and the faction of the Shiv Sena headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

On Sunday, the MNS chief said in a letter to Fadnavis said that Ramesh Latke was an efficient worker who began his political journey as a “shakha pramukh”, or the chief of a local unit of the Shiv Sena.

“I have witnessed his journey and growth in the political arena,” Thackeray said. “After his death, to see his wife become an MLA in his constituency will be a solace to his departed soul.”

The MNS chief added that such a gesture would be in consonance with Maharashtra’s culture.

“Whenever there has been a situation wherein a sitting MLA has passed away and a family member has filed...their candidature, our party has refrained from fighting the bye-poll,” Thackeray said. “This is our way of paying our reverence to the departed soul.”

Commenting on the appeal, Fadnavis said that Thackeray sent the letter in good faith, but that he would have to discuss the matter with Shinde and BJP leaders, PTI reported.

“In earlier instances when there was proper communication, we had decided not to contest bye-polls...for instance, when NCP leader and former Home Minister RR Patil had died,” the deputy chief minister said. “It is not like we [BJP] never considered opting out of a bye-election. Whenever there is a proper communication or appeal to made to us, we have responded properly.”

Meanwhile, Rutuka Latke said: “I had earlier thought that this will be a unanimous election, but I am ready to fight the bye-poll.”