As the deadline for withdrawal of nominations ended at 3 pm on Tuesday, Deshmukh remained in the poll arena as an independent. A senior state Congress leader expressed the apprehension that Deshmukh, who is seeking a consecutive third term from Amravati, could topple Shekhawats applecart.
Meanwhile, Kalavati Bandurkar, the most visible face of the farm crisis in drought-hit Vidarbha, withdrew from the Assembly polls after a series of flip flops.
Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, the NGO supporting her candidature has now fielded another farmer widow Babytai Bais from Wani seat.
However, another Congress rebel Ajit Ghorpade, who was in fray from Kavthe Mahankal constituency in western Maharashtras Sangli district, withdrew from the electoral battle, providing respite to former home minister R R Patil who is the NCP nominee there.
BJP rebel Vinay Natu, who has floated his own outfit Shridhar Sena after the party allowed ally Sena to contest from his Guhagar seat in coastal Konkan, also remains in the fray, posing a challenge to the leader of the Opposition Ramdas Kadam, the Sena nominee there.