While senior Congress leaders termed contestant Manturam Pawar's decision ‘unexpected’ and ‘painful’, the ruling BJP believes that it reflects ‘differences’ within the main opposition party in the state.

Congress candidate Manturam Pawar withdrew his candidature for the Antagarh assembly (Kanker district) by-poll, Kanker Collector and District Election Officer Alarmelmangai D said.

Nominees may withdraw their names for the by-election until August 30 and voting would be held on September 13, she said.

For the Antagarh bypoll, 14 candidates had filed their nominations and one nomination was rejected after scrutiny on August 20.

Twelve candidates are in the fray for the constituency after Pawar's withdrawal, the collector said.

Disappointed with the move, leader of opposition in the Chhattisgarh state assembly T S Singhdeo said, that Pawar's decision is "unexpected and painful".

"We were in constant touch with him and were confident of a good show from the seat," Singhdeo said.

However, Pawar has not cited any reason for the move so far, he said.

"We are trying to contact Pawar to know the reason behind this step," he said.

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