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Rebels keep parties on tenterhooks in Maharashtra

Mumbai: All political parties, especially the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena, in Maharashtra are on tenterhooks as sheer rebellion could sour prospects of official candidates in many constituencies in the October 21 elections for 288 assembly constituencies.

While some parties tried to wish them away with ‘saam’ or ‘daam’, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis displayed an iron fist by threatening to invoke ‘dand’ or ‘bhed’, warning that if the rebels failed to withdraw from the fray, “they would be shown their place”. But many remain unfazed…

Besides the BJP-Sena, even the Opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party partners are wracking their brains on how to mollify the ‘traitors’ who could act as double-edged swords for all sides.

On one hand, rebels could mar the prospects of the official candidates or benefit the opponents, there was also a possibility in some cases that they could be the dark-horse winners, depending

on their own standing in various constituencies.

The BJP-Sena was earlier besieged by an army of 110 rebels in over 27 constituencies besides the Congress-NCP in around 20 seats, and in some half a dozen seats the official alliances are even fighting against each other..! Today, the BJP-Sena still face rebels in at least 30 seats, and the Congress-NCP have sought to exploit its discomfiture by backing them!

In some constituencies, the Opposition has arrived at convenient but unofficial understandings with Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) whose candidates could chip away at the votes of the BJP-Sena nominees. Top leaders of both alliances worked out face-saving formulae to quell the rebels, in some cases luring them with attractive bargains, and in others, the rebels offering to ‘return’ to the parent party fold after victory in return for plum cabinet posts.

For the ruling alliance, it’s an uphill task as it has to satisfy the demands from the flood of newcomers into their parties, mostly from the NCP or Congress against their own contenders for tickets.

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