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Prez son up against Cong rebel in poll.

REBELS are spilling out of the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress even as both parties announced most of their nominees for the Maharashtra assembly poll on Wednesday.

The Congress, which released 159 out of its total share of 174 seats, withheld the announcement of key seats from where children of politicians are expected to be fielded.

At the end of the day, there were many disappointed ticket- seekers, some of whom have already decided to contest independently and pose a challenge to the party's official candidate. President Pratibha Patil's son, Rajendra Shekhawat, has been given the Congress ticket from Amravati amid protests by sitting MLA and minister of state for finance, Sunil Deshmukh.

On Wednesday, Deshmukh lashed out at Patil. " She is the President of the country. The post should be used for promoting the welfare of the country and not of her family," he said, adding that he would contest from the seat as an Independent.

Deshmukh is a strong enough candidate to worry the Congress. Given his potential to topple Shekhawat, efforts had been on since a week to placate him with the neighbouring Achalpur seat.

However, Deshmukh refused to take on sitting Sena MLA Omprakash alias Bacchu Kadu, who could be tough to defeat.

Deshmukh has called Shekhawat an outsider. Shekhawat, who attempted to make a foray into politics in the last Lok Sabha election as well, is at pains to convey that he is no outsider as his father had contested the seat some years ago.

Congress leaders said Deshmukh's walkout could upset the Congress prospects in the Amravati region. " We are already weak in the area and his dissension could affect party and public sentiment," said a leader.

The party is hoping to placate Deshmukh and other potential rebels who could upset its applecart at a time the party is riding on a pro- Congress sentiment and hoping to form the third successive government.

The Congress's first list includes chief minister Ashok Chavan, former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, industries minister Narayan Rane and other members of the state Cabinet.

Rebellion is brewing in several parts of the state as parties fear that the number of disgruntled ticket aspirants could touch 100. The first list of 80 NCP candidates excluded six sitting MLAs, at least three of whom are in the mood to rebel. This includes Gotiram Pawar from Murbad, Sudhakar Paricharak from Pandharpur and Balasaheb Patil from Karad. Patil has indicated his intention to fight separately.

One of the bigger casualties for the party is Digvijay Khanvilkar from Kolhapur West. The former minister has decided to quit the NCP and fight separately after three seats in Kolhapur were given to the Congress in the seat- sharing agreement. " Workers are unhappy that the NCP gave away all three seats. This is our base. What do we do?" he said.

In Barshi, NCP's former MLA Dilip Sopal has filed his nomination as an Independent against the official NCP candidate. In Nagpur, NCP city unit president Ashok Dhawad resigned after his party gave away all six seats to the Congress.

RAHUL'S YOUTH STAMP

The seat allocation pattern has Rahul Gandhi's stamp, considering nearly 50 per cent of the Congress tickets have gone to greenhorns and party workers.

Of the 159 seats announced on Wednesday, 74 seats have gone to newcomers.

Six sitting MLAs have been dropped while seven others lost their seats to delimitation and have not been accommodated elsewhere.

Besides the newcomers, who are all district Congress committee workers or corporators, the Congress has accommodated nine Independent candidates who have been given the party ticket to contest this time. Three former Shiv Sainiks who joined the party have been given tickets.

In another development, Poonam Mahajan, daughter of the late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, filed her nomination from Ghatkopar West in Mumbai.

Local BJP corporator Pravin Chheda was expecting a nomination and may now fight independently from the seat.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 24, 2009
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