With the election heat picking up, Karad (south) constituency from where Maharashtra's former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is contesting polls has become the center of political manoeuvrings.
On being cornered from rivals and rebels from his own party, the former CM and the face of the Congress party's campaign in October 15 assembly elections Prithviraj Chavan managed to get on his side NCP's official candidate Rajendra Yadav on Wednesday.
Yadav met Chavan and decided to support the latter in the polls.
Embarrassed by Yadav's move, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) played another card and asked Yadav to withdraw from the contest while announcing party's support to Congress rebel Vilaskaka Undalkar.
"In Karad (south) the party has decided to support Independent candidate Vilaskaka Undalkar," NCP leader Ajit Pawar announced in Mumbai.
Undalkar, a seven-time MLA, had resigned from the Congress along with his supporters last week. He was protesting against the party fielding Chavan from his home town Karad. With Undalkar getting support from NCP, winning home turf may not be the cakewalk for former chief minister.
Realising the challenges, Chavan camp poached Yadav, an NCP corporator, to divide rival votes. "Yadav's decision to withdraw from the contest is his own," Chavan said in Karad denying any involvement in poaching the rival candidate.
With NCP's official candidate withdrawing from the contest, the Karad south, traditionally a Congress bastion, is all set to witness a four way contest.
Besides Chavan and Undalkar, others in the fray are Atul Bhosale, a Congress rebel who switched over to BJP and Ajeenkya Patil, son of Bihar governor DY Patil. To make it difficult for Chavan, BJP has decided to conduct Narendra Modi's rally in Karad on September 9.
Taking note that he may have to take NCP and BJP head on to win Karad, Chavan has been severely attacking NCP. "NCP has given the state to BJP by withdrawing support (at state level). This was their game plan. They have done this only for political gains. They want a share in the central government. Everyone will know who joins hands with BJP post elections," Chavan tweeted.
In 1999, Chavan tasted defeat when he contested Lok Sabha elections from Karad. This will be his first election after 1999 defeat where he faces an equally daunting task.