The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have warned rebels to withdraw their nominations for the Maharashtra Assembly elections by 2 p.m. Tuesday, or face strict action. Tuesday is the last date for withdrawals.

Union Power Minister and head of the campaign committee Sushil Kumar Shinde told journalists here that NCP president Sharad Pawar had already called for removing the rebels from the party. Senior leaders from both parties met on Monday to discuss the issue of rebellion.

Mr. Shinde admitted that the reason why so many rebels filed nominations was the delay in announcing the alliance and the feeling that the two parties might fight the polls separately.

Referring to State Minister and sitting MLA Sunil Deshmukh, who has filed his papers in Amravati against President Pratibha Patil’s son, Rajendra Shekhawat, Mr. Shinde said Mr. Deshmukh was a good worker and had been elected twice. The Congress had done him good, Mr. Shinde said, adding he was confident that he would not contest.

Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre said no rebel who wins the election would be co-opted into the government. In 2004, the government sought the support of 12 independents, nine of whom were given ticket this time.

The Congress-NCP joint manifesto will be released on October 2. The Congress launched its advertisement campaign. The print, television and online advertisements and a radio jingle will focus on the aam aadmi’s satisfaction with the Congress and its policies, according to Sanjay Dutt, chief media coordinator.

Mr. Thakre said Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would campaign for the elections. She was expected to tour the State on October 5, 6 and 10. She was likely to visit Buldhana, Nanded, Kolhapur, Mumbai, Nashik and Nagpur.

Rahul was likely to visit the State on October 7 and 8. The dates would be confirmed later, Mr. Thakre said.


Maharashtra polls: all fronts and no back September 30, 2009

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