The contest for Maharashtra's Karad (South) constituency seat promises to be the most interesting in the upcoming October 15 assembly polls with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan being challenged on his home turf by Congress rebels.
In the fray are: Chavan- Congress party's official candidate along with Atul Bhosale, whom BJP imported from Congress just before the elections; Bihar governor DY Patil's son Ajeenkya Patil as Shiv Sena candidate and sitting MLA and Congress rebel Vilaskaka Undalkar who has been fighting election as an independent candidate.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had initially approached Undalkar for fielding him as party's official candidate. After Undalkar decided to contest polls as an independent, NCP pitted Rajendra Yadav.
After filing his nomination on Friday Chavan expressed confidence of his win. "I am glad that thousands of people are standing with me today. You strengthen my resolve to work hard for Karad," Chavan tweeted immediately after filing his papers.
The seven-time MLA, Undalkar along with his supporters resigned from the Congress on Thursday in protest against the party fielding Chavan from Karad. He however remained silent on NCP nomination even as his supporters maintained that Undalkar would be the NCP nominee from Karad (South).
"The NCP has approached Undalkar for contesting the elections under party's name. He is likely to accept that offer," said Congress' Karad taluka chief and Undalkar's close associate Jagannath Mohite.
Earlier, Undalkar was keen on fighting polls on a Congress ticket. However after Chavan managed to bag the ticket, he decided to challenge the chief minister who was preparing for the assembly polls from last year and was visiting his constituency regularly to keep in touch with the local Congress workers and voters.
On the other hand the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Atul Bhosale, yet another Congress rebel who also filed his nomination on Thursday. In 2009, Bhosale had fought elections from Karad (north) but had lost.
Later he joined the Congress anticipating that the party may field him from Karad (south). However Chavan's candidature changed the equations in the constituency with aspirants like Bhosale switching their loyalties.
After the BJP broke its 25-year-old alliance with the Shiv Sena, the latter has decided to field Ajeenkya Patil, son of Bihar governor and Congress leader DY Patil.
DY Patil's other son Satej is also Congress minister in the government and is seeking re-nomination from Kolhapur.