Mumbai: With only a day left for withdrawal of nomination papers for the 13 October Maharashtra assembly elections, the Congress-NCP leadership on Monday intensified efforts to pacify rebels and get them out of the poll fray.
Union power minister Sushilkumar Shinde, the campaign committee chairman of the state Congress, told reporters here that leaders of the two ruling coalition partners met here this morning to discuss about rebels pitted against official candidates of the parties.
Chief minister Ashok Chavan, state Congress president Manikrao Thakre, Union heavy industries minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh and Shinde himself represented the Congress while civil aviation minister Praful Patel and deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal were present from the NCP side.
“We exchanged a list of Congress and NCP rebels and decided to intensify efforts to pacify them and ensure they withdraw from race,” Shinde said.
The Union minister said he and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar began the joint campaign of Congress-NCP in Solapur on Sunday. “Due to Pawar’s intervention, many rebels in Solapur district have withdrawn their nomination,” he said.
Three rebels from Congress and about two to three from NCP are still in the race, Shinde added.
“We are confident that the Congress rebels will withdraw,” Shinde said.
Thakre said Congress would take strict action against those who do not withdraw. “Even if they win, they will not be made associate members,” he said.
He said sitting MLA from Amravati and minister Sunil Deshmukh who is fighting against Rajendra Shekhawat, son of President Pratibha Patil, is being persuaded to withdraw.
“Deshmukh is a loyal party worker. He has been given a ticket twice and also made a minister on two occasions,” he said.
Shinde said the number of rebels in fray this time was high because of the delay in announcing the pre-election pact by the Congress and NCP.