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Cong Downplays Rebellion By Maharashtra Minister

PTI 25 Sep 2009, 2:41:57 AM IST

Congress has tried to downplay the rebellion by a Maharashtra minister in wake of the party fielding Rajendra Shekhawat, son of President Pratibha Patil from Amravati constituency saying "there is always some amount of unhappiness during election time".

"During election time, there is always some amount of unhappiness among those who are denied tickets. It is natural. But we are confident no true Congressman will rebel against the party's official list (of candidates)," Party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters at the AICC briefing in Delhi.

She was replying to questions on rebellion by Minister of State for Finance Sunil Deshmukh, who was denied his sitting Amravati seat in Vidharbha after the party fielded Shekhawat from there.

Natarjan parried questions whether the party will take action against Deshmukh, saying "whatever future steps will be taken will be decided by senior leaders including the AICC general secretary in-charge for the state". 

She also deflected a question why Congress gave tickets to relatives of senior party leaders and VIPs, saying "the party announced a composite list of party workers".

A four-time MLA, including twice from Amravati, Deshmukh after being denied ticket yesterday said he was shocked and would file his nomination as an Independent, maintaining that "injustice" has been done to him by the leadership.

In Mumbai, President Pratibha Patil's son Rajendra Shekhawat rejected allegations his mother played a role and said she has been "deliberately" dragged into his election foray.

"Judge me as an individual and not as the son of the President of India," Shekhawat(42) said, adding he will keep his father Devinsingh Shekhawat away from his poll campaign.

"I plan to take this litmus test myself or you may say I want to cross the first hurdle of my political career all by myself," the only son of the President told PTI on his way to his constituency in North of Maharashtra in reply to a question whether he would be taking help of his father during electioneering.

Shekhawat rejected the notion that he was nominated to contest the polls because of his mother's influence.

"Just because my mother is a President, one can attach any motives. No one would like to see the work I have been doing in Amravati, he said, adding "My candidature has nothing to do with my mother. I am citizen of this country and I have every right to contest."

"I am an Organising Secretary of Congress Seva Dal. I tried for a ticket in 2004 but did not get," he said.

Shekhawat, who is a Law graduate and a post graduate in Export Management, said, "Now if I have got the seat this time, what is the fuss all about."