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Gangsters, relatives in the poll fray

mumbai Updated: Sep 23, 2009 01:22 IST

Deepak Nikalje, younger brother of underworld don Chhota Rajan and underworld don Arun Gawli on Tuesday, filed their nominations into the electoral fray for Maharashtra Assembly elections.

Nikalje (42) filed his nomination in Chembur constituency as candidate of the Republican Party of India (RPI) whose president Ramdas Athawale is leading the Third front.

Both Nikalje and Gawli are not the only candidates related to gangsters or with a criminal record. Hitendra Thakur, gangster Bhai Thakur’s brother is also seeking re-election from Vasai constituency.

SSC passed Nikalje, in his affidavit, along with his spouse, declared his property, at about Rs 4 crore. Congress is considering pitching local MLA Chandrakant Handore from Chembur where Nikalje has filed his nomination. Nikalje contested 2004 assembly elections and was defeated by Handore.

Meanwhile, Gawli, who is behind the bars at Taloja prison, filed his nomination for the Byculla constituency through his wife Asha and daughter Geeta. In the last assembly polls five years ago, Gawli had arrived with truckful of supporters, but this time, it was a subdued affair. “Daddy’s absence has taken the fun out of the nomination process,” admitted Geeta who is also doubling as the spokesperson of the party, Akhil Bhartiya Sena (ABS). “Unfortunately the court has not permitted him to attend the event.”

In contrast, the Shiv Sena candidate Yeshwant Jadhav, who filed the nomination before Gawli, came with hordes of supporters. Another problems for Gawli’s candidature is the absence of the aeroplane symbol, which the party lost out this time. “We will have to wait for a few days before we get a new symbol. Until then it will be difficult for us to campaign for Daddy.”

However the family exuded confidence that Gawli will once again be elected from this seat. “People have seen the work that my father has done, and that is enough — they will definitely vote for him,” said Geeta.

Gawli’s HC hearing is scheduled for September 25. His ABS party will contest six seats across Maharashtra this time.

Shakil Ahmed, an advocate, has been involved in high profile cases, including the Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar case and the Hari Masjid firings. He filed his nomination as an independent from Sion-Koliwada.