BHOPAL: The ruling BJP and the opposition Congress have gone into damage-control mode to get party rebels to withdraw from the fray in Madhya Pradesh which goes to polls on November 28.
The state has a 230-member assembly and sources from both parties believe that these rebels could prove to be the decisive factor in 30-odd seats.
The last date to withdraw nominations is November 14.
According to a senior BJP leader, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state BJP chief Rakesh Singh, party vice-president Prabhat Jha and state organisational secretary Suhas Bhagat among others were contacting party rebels to get them to opt out of the electoral race.
"All our senior leaders are contacting our cadre who are fighting elections against the party's nominees. Like in the past, they are going to withdraw from the race," state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal claimed.
On behalf of the opposition Congress, senior leader and former chief minister Digvijay Singh was trying to persuade rebels to withdraw their candidatures, party sources said.
They said that MP Congress chief Kamal Nath, former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ajay Singh were also involved in ensuring that the party's official candidates don't have to fight the rebels.
Digvijaya Singh told rebels that the official candidates were chosen after much deliberations by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, and that the rebels should work in the interest of the party.
Prominent among the BJP rebels who are in the fray this time are Ramkrishna Kusumari, five-time MP and a powerful leader from the impoverished Bundelkhand region, who has filed his nomination papers from two Assembly seats, Damoh and Patharia, as an Independent candidate.
Likewise, former MP finance minister and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Raghavji Bhai is contesting elections on a SAPAKS (Samanya Pichra Alpsankhyak Kalyan Samaj) ticket from Shashabad in Vidisha district.
He is apparently angry over the BJP not giving a ticket to his daughter Jyoti Shah.
Similarly, former Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) state chief Dhiraj Pateriya is contesting from Jabalpur North as an Independent candidate.
The Congress' rebel list includes senior leader and former party spokesman Satyavrat Chaturvedi's son Nitin who is contesting from Rajnagar seat in Bundelkhand region as a Samajwadi Party candidate after being denied a party ticket.
Similarly, Sahab Singh Gurjar is contesting from Gwalior Rural seat after the Congress refused him a ticket.
Former Congress MLA Xavier Meda was in the fray against party candidate Vikrat Singh Bhuria from Jhabua.