After his decision to contest the zilla parishad polls on a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ticket raised many eyebrows, Ralegan Siddhi sarpanch and social activist Anna Hazare’s close aide Jaysingh Mapari has withdrawn from the fray because of large-scale rebellion in the party.
Mapari withdrew his candidature on Monday following consultations with Hazare. The anti-corruption crusader, who has a tense relationship with NCP leaders and was earlier planning to campaign against the UPA in all poll-bound states, had not objected when Mapari bagged the NCP candidature in Ahmednagar district. However, the decision met with opposition from within the party and several NCP workers filed their nominations as rebel candidates opposite him. Hazare then reportedly asked Mapari to contest only if there was no rebel candidate fielded against him.
Mapari’s son Amol said that former NCP member of legislative assembly Vasant Rao Zavre had fielded several candidates against the sarpanch. “This was not expected. Zavre did not listen to party leaders even after a discussion with (deputy chief minister) Ajit Pawar.”
According to sources, Mapari’s supporters fear rebel candidates could affect his victory prospects. Differences amongst Hazare’s aides in Ralegan Siddhi over his candidature could also have prompted the move, said sources. “It was embarrassing for all of us but we did not stop him because it was a personal decision. However, there was some uneasiness in Ralegan Siddhi after Mapari’s decision,” said a resident of Hazare’s native village. Ralegan Siddhi has a history of electing members of the gram panchayat, without bringing in political parties.