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`Rebel who withdrew nomination will be rewarded'

By Meena Menon

DEVRUKH (RATNAGIRI), OCT. 2. The Shiv Sena executive president,

Uddhav Thackeray, said today that the Sena rebel and former Minister, Ravinder Mane, who withdrew his nomination and reaffirmed his loyalty to the party, would be rewarded if the BJP-Shiv Sena combine came to power in Maharashtra.

The Sena faced a setback in Konkan, a party stronghold, when two rebels filed their nominations from Chiplun and Sangameshwar. Mr. Mane, former Minister and three-time MLA from Sangameshwar, later withdrew his nomination. Today, he shared a platform with Mr. Thackeray at an election rally in Devrukh in the region. And appreciating his gesture, Mr. Thackeray promised to reward him if the alliance came to power.

The official candidate, Subhash Bane, himself a rebel in the last election, said he was certain of the party's victory.

At the rally, Mr. Thackeray said the rebels would not affect the electoral outcome in the Konkan. The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance would come back to power at the Centre, he added.

The rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of the audience. Volunteers could be seen sporting saffron shirts, caps and scarves, a few with the Sena chief, Bal Thackeray's picture on their T-shirts.

Mr. Thackeray attacked the ruling Congress-NCP Government in the State for neglecting the Konkan and urged people to vote for the alliance if they wanted development of the region. The Konkan, which was rich in resources, was backward due to lack of political will, he said.

But election issues took a backseat at the rally as Mr Thackeray praised Mr Mane for withdrawing his nomination and held him up as an example of a loyal Sainik. "All the Sena loyalists are with me today. The success of the Sena is that there is no split and that is the strength of the party. Today, Mr. Mane is on the stage with us — in any other party he would not have been allowed after what he did."

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