Chhota Rajan's brother replaced as poll candidate

Digambar Agawane. (Facebook/@agawane.d)

A day after the Republican Party of India (Athawale) fielded Deepak Nikalje, the brother of jailed underworld don Chhota Rajan from Phaltan in Satara district for the October 21 assembly polls, the party on Thursday changed its candidate from the seat in Western Maharashtra.

Instead of Nikalje, local leader Digambar Agawane will contest from the seat, senior RPI leader and Maharashtra minister Avinash Mahatekar said.

The RPI (A) is an ally of the BJP.

The RPI, led by Union minister Ramdas Athawale, has been given six seats as part of the seat-sharing deal between the BJP, Shiv Sena and other smaller allies for the October 21 state elections.

Athawale announced the candidates, including the name of Nikalje, in Mumbai on Wednesday.

"Agawane, who is a local RPI (A) leader, has been announced as the party's candidate from Phaltan," said Mahatekar.

He said Agawane will contest the election on BJP's 'lotus' symbol.

Mahatekar said though Nikalje was from Phaltan, he never lived there.

Meanwhile, RPI workers from Pune decided to stay away from the BJP's poll campaign to protest against the Dalit party not getting any assembly seat in the city.

"We were hoping to get the Pune Cantonment seat from Pune. However, it seems that BJP took us for granted and did not give a single seat.

"There is a great disappointment and anger against the BJP among RPI party workers in Pune and that is why no party worker took part in their nomination filing rallies," said a release issued collectively by several RPI leaders from the city.

The release stated that party workers and leaders from Pune have decided they will stay away from the BJP's poll campaign in the city.

Mahatekar said the disappointment and anger of RPI workers is natural, but expressed the hope they will change their mind and take part in the campaign.

"We will try and persuade them," he said.

October 4 is the last date for filing nominations.

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