BJP-Sena faces rebellion in 30-odd Maharashtra seats

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis exchanges bouquets with Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray during a press conference to announce Maha Yuti (Grand alliance), in Mumbai. (PTI photo)

The ruling BJP-Shiv Sena saffron alliance is facing rebels in 30-odd places ahead of the battle of votes in Maharashtra Assembly elections. On the other hand, sensing opportunity, the Congress-NCP alliance has backed some rebels. Besides, the Opposition alliance is having a tacit understanding with the Raj Thackeray's MNS in a few places.

Though Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president have appealed rebels and warned them of strict action, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Five sitting MLAs — Charan Waghmare, Raju Todsam, Balasaheb Sanap and Narayan Pawar (all from the BJP) and Trupti Sawant have filed papers as independent candidates. Majority of rebels are in Konkan, Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

In Jalgaon's Muktainagar where BJP veteran Eknath Khadse's daughter Rohini is making electoral debut and is facing Shiv Sena rebel Chandrakant Patil. The NCP withdrew its candidate Ravindra Patil and is backing the rebel.

The Shiv Sena is facing rebellion at Bandra East, which houses Matoshree, the bungalow of the Thackerays. Here, Sena has fielded Mumbai Mayor Prof Vishwanath Mahadeshwar but sitting MLA Trupti Sawant has rebelled. The seat was earlier held by her late husband Bala Sawant. In the 2015 bypolls, she had defeated Narayan Rane, then with the Congress.

In Sawantwadi, Minister of Sate for Home Affairs Deepak Kesarkar is facing problems as his Sena colleague Rajan Teli has filed papers as an independent candidate.

In Kankavli, Nitesh Rane, the Congress MLA who joined BJP, is facing Sena rebel Satish Samant. The Thackerays and Ranes of Konkan share an uneasy relationship.

In the tribal seat of Vikramgad, BJP's Hemant Sawara is facing party's rebel Surekha Tethle. In Ramtek, Sena's former MLA Ashish Jaiswal is taking on BJP's official candidate Mallikarjun Reddy, a sitting MLA. In Solapur City Central, Sena's district president Mahesh Kothe is taking on the party's official candidate Dilip Mane.

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari's close confidant Mahesh Baldi has not withdrawn from Uran seat in Raigad district against Shiv Sena nominee Manohar Bhoir. Veteran Congressman and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who is contesting from Karad South, is facing rebel Udaysinh Undalkar. The Chavans and Undalkars are political rivals.

In Kothrud in Pune, the Congress and NCP have backed MNS candidate Kishore Shinde. Even in Thane, the Congress-NCP alliance has backed Raj Thackeray's aide Avinash Jadhav.

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