Independent MLAs: Truly Rebels or Fall Back Support?
Heavyweight politicians being denied ticket and contesting as Independents mar the electoral prospects of a political party's official candidate.
The Congress, especially, is no stranger to this phenomenon, more so in Maharashtra, which goes to polls on October 13.
In the past too, the party has had to grapple with rebellion during elections in Maharashtra, a state which has always been a traditional Congress citadel. This time too, the number of rebels in fray has the Congress-NCP worried.
The cynosure of all eyes will be the Amravati Assembly constituency where Congress rebel sitting MLA and minister Sunil Deshmukh is taking on official Congress candidate Rajendra Shekhawat, son of President Pratibha Patil.
Since 1990, when the Congress, for the first time, fell short of a simple majority, Independent MLAs have gone on to play a crucial role in the state during government formation.
Being a Congress stronghold since its formation, most of the Independents are anyway Congress rebels who have contested as Independents after being denied a ticket by the party.
Many have played some role in defeating the official party candidate, only to contest the next round of elections as official candidates, once again.
Congress has given tickets to its 2004 winning rebels Ramprasad Bordikar (Jintur), Satej Patil (Kolhapur South), Shivajirao Naik (Shirala), Madan Patil (Sangli), Madan Bhosale (Wai).
In 2004, Bordikar, Madan Patil had defeated Congress candidates while Shivajirao Naik, Madan Bhosale, Satej Patil had defeated NCP candidates.
Babanrao Pachpute, former NCP state president had contested from Srigonda defeating the Congress candidate.
Pachpute, after his win, became an associate member of the NCP and also a cabinet minister in the government. He is in the fray this time too as NCP nominee.
Madan Patil was recently made minister in the Ashok Chavan cabinet.
Former Health Minister and NCP leader Digivijay Khanvilkar, who was defeated by Satej Patil in 2004 in the erstwhile Karvir Assembly constituency, is contesting as a rebel against Patil. The constituency is now called Kolhapur South post delimitation.
Former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil during his 60th birthday celebrations in Malshiras five years ago had recalled how late Vasantdada Patil and Sharad Pawar had "encouraged" him to contest as Independent in 1980 from Malrishas in Solapur district after the party high command had refused him the ticket.
Among the former Chief Ministers who contested and won as Independent MLAs include Abdul Rehman Antulay from Sriwardhan in Raigad district in 1985 while earlier former Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan had won the Bhokar Assembly in 1978 as Independent.
A prominent Independent legislator in the first Maharashtra Legislative Assembly was Acharya Prahlad Keshav Atre who had won from the Dadar Assembly constituency. The literateur-filmmaker-journalist belonged to the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) and was a multi-faceted personality.
In 1990, Tukaram Gadakh, again an Independent, had won from Shegaon.
Subhash Kul, had got elected from Daund defeating the Congress candidates. Both Gadakh and Kul joined NCP in 1999.
In 1995, about 42 Independents, mostly Congress rebels had gone past the winning post and the minority Shiv sena-BJP government had depended on their support.
Among the prominent rebels who later joined the NCP were Dilip Sopal (Barshi), Anil Deshmukh (Katol), Ajit Ghorpade (Kavthe Mahankal), Digambar Bagal (Karmala), Rajesh Tope (Ambad), Rajendra Shingne (Sindhkhedraja) Babasaheb Dhabekar (Karanja) and Vijaykumar Gavit (Nandurbar).
Among the other Independent MLAs in 1995 -- Ramesh Bang from Kalamneshwar got elected on NCP ticket in 1999 and also became minister recently, K C Padvi won from Akrani on Congress ticket and Chainsukh Sancheti from Malkapur got elected on BJP ticket in 1999.
Padmakar Valvi contested as Independent from Taloda in North Maharashtra, getting more votes than the official Congress nominee resulting in the latter's defeat in 1995. He contested the 1999 polls as a Congress candidate.
Valvi shot into fame when the Shiv Sena-BJP made a vehement bid to topple the Vilasrao Deshmukh-government.
Valvi had then alleged that he was kidnapped by the Opposition.
Both ex-TADA detenues Hitendra Thakur and Pappu Kalani, who were Congress MLAs from Vasai and Ulhasnagar respectively, contested the 1995 and 1999 elections as Independents and won.
They were arrested during the rule of the then Chief Minister late Sudhakarrao Naik on charges of being involved in underworld activities.
They played a crucial role in supporting the Congress-NCP government when it faced a threat to its survival in 2002.
Another Independent MLA Sunil Kedar had won against sitting Congress legislator and two time state Congress chief Ranjit Deshmukh from Saoner in 1995. He had later joined the NCP.
But in 2004 he was elected as Independent from the same constituency.
Kedar is now the congress candidate from the same constituency.
Former minister Shivajirao Moghe was elected as Independent from Kelapur. He was sitting MLA in 1985, was defeated in 1990 and was denied ticket in 1995 so he contested as Independent and won.
In 1999 he was elected on Congress ticket.
Badamrao Pandit (Gevrai), Digambar Bagal (Karmala), Shivajirao Kardile (Ahmednagar north), Harshvardhan Patil (Indapur), Ajit Ghorpade (Kavthe Mahankal), Anil Deshmukh (Katol) were re-elected from their constituencies in 1999.
They had supported the Shiv Sena-BJP government in 1995 and later the Congress-NCP government.
Pandit is now the NCP candidate from Gevrai.
Ghorpade was elected on Congress ticket in 2004 and rebelled against the party nominee Pratik Patil in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Sangli. He was again in fray for the Assembly polls as rebel but was persuaded by Sharad Pawar to withdraw.
Mohanrao Gudge, sitting MLA from Khatav, had won as Independent since 1985 was elected on an NCP ticket in 1999. Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, minister in the current government, had won as Independent and later in 1999 on NCP ticket.
Another prominent rebel in 1972 was sugar baron and veteran Congressman Shankarrao Kolhe, who was elected as an Independent defeating the Congress nominee from Shirdi. He later joined the NCP and represented the Kopargaon Assembly.
Rebel Congressman Sampatrao Deshmukh had defeated party veteran Patangrao Kadam in 1995 from Bhilwadi-Wangi.
Tukaram Dighole from Sinnar was sitting MLA when he was denied ticket in 1995 so he contested as Independent and won. He contested as NCP candidate in 1999 and was defeated.
NCP leader Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil had contested as Independent in 1980 from Malshiras and won.
Even in Mumbai, in 1990, Kherwadi sitting MLA and now Congress candidate from Bandra east Janardhan Chandurkar, on being denied ticket, contested as rebel against the official candidate Vijay Kamble. Since Chandurkar ate into the Congress votes, Madhukar Sarpotdar of Shiv Sena got elected.
Chandurkar contested as Congress candidate in 1999 and 2004.
Even Shiv Sena-BJP, known as cadre-based parties have had to grapple with rebellion.
In 2004, Bhaskar Jadhav sitting MLA from Chiplun rebelled against his party Shiv Sena resulting in the election of an NCP candidate from the constituency.
BJP's sitting MLA from Guhagar Vinay Natu has now rebelled against being denied ticket and is in fray giving Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Ramdas Kadam tough time.
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