The list of candidates of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for the Maharashtra Assembly polls will be finalised, in most likelihood, by September 24, a day before the last date for filing nominations, NCP Pune president Jaideo Gaikwad said here on Saturday.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Gaikwad said, “Finalising candidates late reduces the possibility of rebels standing against the party.”

During the Lok Sabha elections, the party did not give ticket to sitting MP Sadashivrao Mandlik in Kolhapur, western Maharashtra. Instead, it put up Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje Shahu, scion of the Maratha king Shivaji and Shahu’s royal family. Eventually, it was Mr. Mandlik who won the seat with a margin of 45,000 votes.

Mr. Gaikwad said, “Mandlik managed to influence even the neighbouring Hatkanangle constituency, where the NCP’s Nivedita Mane fell to the Swabhimani Paksha’s Raju Shetti.”

Speaking to The Hindu, professor of Politics at the Pune University Suhas Palshikar, also associated with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, said: “Though western Maharashtra has been an NCP stronghold, the party faces the greatest threat there itself. Anti-incumbency is directed against the NCP. So, what the party tries to do is give ticket to fresh faces, giving rise to rebels.”

During the Lok Sabha polls, the NCP fared poorly in western Maharashtra. Admitting that the party was “disturbed after the Lok Sabha setback,” Mr. Gaikwad said party chief Sharad Pawar did a great deal of introspection along with party workers later on. Mr. Gaikwad said, “We did not do proper social engineering the last time. That is what we will have to do this time.”

About the Congress-NCP equations, he said, “It’s a strange phenomenon that the two parties come together for elections, but start competing after polls. Otherwise, how will the individual parties grow?” This, however, would not have an impact on governance, he said.