Days after BJP ally RPI(A) replaced him as the party nominee from Phaltan for Maharashtra assembly polls, gangster Chhota Rajan's brother Deepak Nikalje has claimed to have declined the candidature on his own volition.
After initially declaring Deepak Nikalje's candidature, the RPI(A) on Thursday replaced him and gave ticket to Digambar Agawane, apparently due to pressure from the BJP.
"I only had declined the seat," said Deepak Nikalje, vice president of Maharashtra unit of RPI (A), in a statement issued on Friday.
Deepak Nikalje said he was keen to contest the election from Chembur in Mumbai, but the seat went to the Shiv Sena as per the seat-sharing pact among constituents of the NDA.
He said he was then asked by RPI(A) president and Union minister Ramdas Athawale to contest the October 21 polls from Phaltan in his native Satara district.
"I would have not got adequate time to campaign and complete technical formalities had I contested from Phaltan. Hence, I did not find it a safe seat and I only told Athawale that I was not keen to contest from there," Deepak Nikalje said.