Union minister Ramdas Athawale's Republican Party of India (RPI) on Wednesday announced that jailed underworld don Chhota Rajan's brother Deepak Nikalje will be party's candidate from Phaltan Assembly seat in the upcoming Assembly election in Maharashtra. Deepak's election symbol will be lotus, which is the symbol of the BJP. Phaltan is the native place of Chhota Rajan. It is to be noted that RPI is an alliance of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and BJP has given six tickets to RPI from its quota as per the seat-sharing agreement reached between the two parties.
The NDA alliance comprises of the BJP, the Shiv Sena, the Republican Party of India-A, the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, the Shiv Sangram Party and the Rayat Kranti Sanghatana. The RPI has been given six seats, the Rayat Kranti Sanghatana three seats, the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha two seats and Shiv Sangram Party three seats.
RPI chief Athawale announced Deepak's name along with the names of five other candidates of his party who would be contesting in the upcoming election. Athawale said that RPI will contest Phaltan in Satara, Malshiras in Solapur, Bhandara, Naigaon in Nanded; Pathri in Parbhani, and Mankhurd- Shivaji Nagar in Mumbai.
It may be recalled that Deepak Nikalje had earlier unsuccessfully contested from the Chembur assembly seat but this seat has now gone to Shiv Sena as per the agreement reached between the NDA alliance partners.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given its smaller allies a total of 14 seats and retained the rest of the 150 seats for itself for the Maharashtra assembly election. The Shiv Sena and BJP on Tuesday had finalised a seat-sharing agreement wherein the BJP will field candidates on 164 seats and the remaining 124 seats will be contested on by the Shiv Sena.