President Pratibha Patil’s son Rajendra Shekhawat is very likely to get a Congress ticket to contest in the Maharashtra assembly elections in October.
The final decision, however, remains with party president Sonia Gandhi.
Shekhawat is keen to contest from Amravati, which is now represented by Minister of State for Finance Sunil Deshmukh, who has reportedly threatened to contest as an independent candidate.
The great Maharashtra family tamasha
Asked if it was appropriate for the President’s son to contest elections, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said, “It is a democratic right of every citizen to stake his claim for a ticket.”
“You will come to know of the party’s decision on this tomorrow,” he said.
Chavan said the President should not be dragged into the matter.
The Congress will contest 174 seats in the elections while the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will fight in 114 seats.
The two parties will come out with a joint manifesto and launch a campaign together.
The Congress-NCP alliance has been in power in the state since 1999 and won a second term in 2004.
At a joint press conference with the Congress, NCP leader and Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel said: “The Congress and NCP will contest the elections together…We have provided a progressive government to an important state like Maharashtra for the past 10 years.”
Patel, Chavan and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress President Manik Rao Thakre appealed to the Republican Party of India and other like-minded parties to join forces against the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine.
Rajendra Shekhawat’s good chances of getting a ticket to contest have raised hopes of several other scions of political families in the state Congress.
Among aspirants are Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s brother Dilip and son Amit, and Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s daughter Praniti and his son-in-law Raj Shroff.
Also in the waiting are Member of Parliament Vilas Muttemwar’s son Vishwas, Industries Minister Narayan Rane’s son Nitesh and Revenue Minister Patangrao Kadam’s son Vishwajit.
Another Congress leader said that most of them had strong winning prospects. “A majority of them will win.”
However, Nitesh Rane and Vishwajit Kadam said that they were not interested in contesting polls. “My priority is to work for my father,” said Nitesh, whose elder brother Nilesh won the Lok Sabha elections from Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri in May.