With only three days to go for the deadline to withdraw nominations, political parties are doing their best to woo rebel or independent candidates who they fear could damage their vote share.
Sources said this could translate into a tacit understanding of offering bigger posts within political parties or even money exchanging hands ahead of the polls.
For instance, Baburao Mane, Shiv Sena candidate from the Charmakar community in Dharavi, is trying to persuade as many independents from the Dhor or Charmakar communities to withdraw, to help improve his prospects. With almost half of 24 candidates belonging to the two key communities, the votes stand to get divided if all of them contest.
Similarly, the Indian National Congress (INC) is dissuading the party’s rebel candidate Hanumantha Nandepalli from contesting as an independent in Dharavi. This is aimed at helping the party’s sitting MLA Varsha Gaikwad’s chances.
“We will request Hanumantha Nandepalli to withdraw his nomination as it is not right to divide Congress votes,” said Janardhan Chandurkar, Congress’ Mumbai unit chief.
The Dharavi Assembly constituency is reserved for candidates belonging to the schedule castes (SC) and politics here is primarily dominated by Buddha, Charmakar and the Dhor community. The division of votes is even more critical with the recent split between the state’s major political alliances.
On the other hand, the BJP is pacifying its rebel candidates in Chembur and Wadala with the help of its organisational heads. “We have a personal rapport with our workers. They will be sensitised about the consequences of their nominations and then requested to withdraw their nominations,” said Ashish Shelar, BJP Mumbai unit chief.
The INC has even decided to initiate stern action like cancelling the membership of the rebel candidates for a minimum of six years, if their nominations are not withdrawn.