A day after Deepak Nikalje, brother of jailed underworld don Chhota Rajan was fielded by the Republican Party of India (Athawale) 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 Deepak 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.
Ramdas Athawale announced the candidates, including the name of Deepak Nikalje, in Mumbai on Wednesday.
“Agawane, who is a local RPI (A) leader, has been announced as the party’s candidate from Phaltan,” said Avinash Mahatekar. He said Agawane will contest the election on BJP’s ”lotus” symbol. The minister said though Deepak Nikalje was from Phaltan, he never lived there.
Five other seats where Republican Party of India would be fielding candidates are Malshiras in Solapur district, Bhandara and Naigaon in Nanded district, Pathri in Parbhani and Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar in Mumbai.
The 288-member Maharashtra Assembly will go to the polls on October 21 while the results will be declared on October 24.
This time Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya Thackeray will also make his debut from Worli. With this, Aaditya Thackeray will become the first member of the Thackeray family ever to contest an election.
“Aaditya Thackeray’s name has been finalised for the Worli assembly segment. Shiv Sena’s sitting MLA Sunil Shinde will vacate his place for Aaditya,” a close aide of Shiv Sena chief said told news agency PTI.
The development comes amidst the uncertainty over Sena’s proposed poll tie-up with the BJP, but sources have said that the “alliance is very much on”.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP and the Shiv Sena had contested separately over a dispute over sharing of seats. The BJP won maximum 122 out of 260 seats it had contested while the Sena bagged 63 out of 282 seats.
Both the parties later joined hands to form a BJP-led government.