With just days left for withdrawing nominations from the race for the Assembly polls, parties are working overtime to contain rebellion within their ranks.
Revolts may spell big trouble for official candidates, as the rebels will eat into the respective party’s vote share.
Of all parties, the most discontent is within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with the party fielding Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) rebels for more than a dozen seats.
Some areas, however, are exceptions, as the party did not have strong candidates there.
After the BJP broke its alliance with the Sena last week, some imports were asked to file nominations on the last day, keeping trusted party insiders away.
Discontent has also been brewing in constituencies where candidates were inducted well ahead of the polls. The BJP will contest 257 seats while small allies will contest 31 seats.
Of the 288 seats, 29 and 25 have been reserved for SC and ST candidates, respectively.
The Congress, Sena and NCP, too, had a tough time naming official candidates. The Congress and NCP have fielded 288 contestants each, while Sena’s number is expected to reduce, as it will support at least five candidates — late BJP leader Gopinath Munde’s daughter Pankaja in Beed, underworld don Arun Gawali’s daughter Geeta in Byculla, and three contestants of RPI’s break-way group, including underworld don Chhota Rajan’s brother Deepak Nikalje in Chembur.
The Congress could not stop the revolt against ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan in Karad (south), where the party’s sitting MLA Vilas Patil will now fight as an independent.
Party insiders said the situation in places where rebels have filed nominations will be clear by October 1, the day for withdrawing papers. “We are telling the rebels this is the best chance for the party because of the break-up of the two major alliances,” said a Congress general secretary.
The Sena had a pleasant surprise in Thane where party deputy leader Anant Tare’s nomination against sitting MLA Eknath Shinde was dismissed.
It is a tough road ahead for the BJP. In Warora in eastern Vidarbha, its decision to field Congress minister Sanjaya Deotale as its candidate has infuriated a dedicated force of RSS workers.
“Our senior leaders are now trying to pacify the angry workers and explain to them that candidates were imported because of their ability to win, and to ensure that the party can make the government with a majority,” said a BJP leader.
The BJP withdrew its candidature against Sena-supported independent candidate Vivek Pandit in Vasai.