Minister of State for Finance Dr Sunil Deshmukh has decided to take on President Pratibha Patil’s son, Rajendra Shekhawat, in the October 13 Assembly polls.
Deshmukh said this to Hindustan Times on Wednesday, after the Congress declared Shekhawat as its candidate from Amravati, a seat Deshmukh has held for two consecutive terms. Deshmukh alleged that “Rashtrapati Bhavan pressurised the party” to deny a ticket to him. “The party hadn’t given him (Shekhawat) a ticket for municipal elections. How was the ticket of a sitting legislator cut to accommodate him?” Deshmukh asked.
The Congress was caught in a bind in selecting the candidate for Amravati after Shekhawat staked his claim to the seat saying that his father, Devisingh Shekhawat, had once represented the seat.
Deshmukh questioned this. “Devisinghji lost the assembly elections from Amravati in 1995 by over 54,000 votes,” said Deshmukh. “Pratibhaji (Patil) was a Lok Sabha member from Amravati then.”
Deshmukh won the seat in 1999 by over 10,000 votes and retained it in 2004 with a 33,000-vote margin. The Congress is worried that denying a ticket to a Maratha might damage the party’s chances in this and neighbouring Maratha-dominated constituencies.
“Congress mei sabhi workers ko nyay milta hai (The Congress does justice to all workers),” state Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre said. Deshmukh claimed that he was offered the Achalpur seat. “I will neither shift to any other constituency nor accept anything else,” he said.