So what is driving out leaders like Milind Deora out of the Congress in Maharashtra? Lack of popular mandate? Or short shrift from Rahul Gandhi and his team? Possibly loss of access to Rahul Gandhi. In fact many of Rahul’s close aides were surprised that when Deora exited there were reports that he had no access to Rahul and was actually seeking to reach him through an appointment via Jairam Ramesh. But then, Milind is not alone. It is being said senior Maharashtra leaders like former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former CM Prithviraj Chavan have also been getting a raw deal from the former Congress President. Neither Shinde nor Chavan have been able to meet Rahul in the past few years. Reportedly, BJP had reached out to Shinde to switch sides and are also tapping his daughter Praniti Shinde, Maharashtra PCC working president. When the Congress came to know of the BJP’s overtures to the father-daughter duo, it got into damage control mode. While efforts were made to molly-coddle senior Shinde, the AICC ensured Praniti was aboard the special aircraft that carried leaders from Delhi to Imphal to launch Nyay Yatra. Though BJP leaders have denied reaching out to Shinde, Congress sources feel Praniti is being eyed as a fresh face for Solapur Lok Sabha seat. If Shinde joins BJP it would bring closure to controversy over his remarks on Hindu terror that he had made at Congress’ Chintan Shivir in Jaipur in 2013 that RSS and BJP were running terror camps.