Despite concerted efforts by senior Congress leaders, rebel Maharashtra minister Sunil Deshmukh did not withdraw his candidature for the October 13 assembly election from the Amravati seat where he takes on President Pratibha Patil's son Rajendrasinh Shekhawat. As the deadline for withdrawal of nominations ended at 1500 hrs on Tuesday, Deshmukh was very much in the poll arena as an independent. A senior state Congress leader expressed the apprehension that Deshmukh, who is seeking a consecutive third term from Amravati, could topple Shekhawat's applecart.
However, another Congress rebel Ajit Ghorpade, who was in fray from Kavthe Mahankal constituency in western Maharashtra's Sangli district, withdrew from the electoral battle, providing respite to former Home Minister R R Patil who is the Nationalist Congress Party nominee there. "Ghorpade, a sitting MLA from the seat and former minister, was prevailed upon by senior Congress and NCP leaders, including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, to pull out as his remaining in the fray would have posed a serious problem for Patil's poll prospects," an NCP leader said.
Bharatiya Janata Party rebel Vinay Natu, who has floated his own outfit Shridhar Sena after the party allowed ally Shiv Sena to contest from the Guhagar seat in coastal Konkan, also remains in fray, posing a challenge to the Leader of the Opposition Ramdas Kadam who is the Sena nominee.
Former Lok Sabha member of Shiv Sena Pradeep Jaiswal also spurned Sena leader's pleas to withdraw in favour of Vikas Jain, the party's official candidate from Aurangabad Central. Jaiswal is a former mayor of Aurangabad.
Congress rebel Namdeo Bhagat declined to pull out from Navi Mumbai constituency where senior NCP minister Ganesh Naik's son Sandeep is in fray. Meanwhile, speaking at a 'meet-the press' programme here today, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said Congress would take a decision within two days on action against party rebels.
In Solapur, where Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's daughter Praniti is Congress candidate, local Shiv Sena unit chief Vitthal Jadhave withdrew from the arena and pledged support to her, leading to his expulsion from the party. In the Kudal seat of the Konkan region, where Industry Minister Narayan Rane is the Congress candidate, party rebel Pushpasen Sawant pulled out of the race and declared his support to Rane.