Former BJP MP Rajni Patil is the Congress candidate for Rajya Sabha by-election from Maharashtra, the party announced on Tuesday.
The by-election has been necessitated due to the death of union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on August 14 last year. His term in the Rajya Sabha was to expire on April 2, 2018.
Patil had broken from the Congress ranks in 1996 over the style of functioning of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
At that point of time, Patil had maintained that she was “disappointed with Rao under whom the younger generation had no future”. Patil was a BJP MP from Beed Lok Sabha constituency from 1996 to 1998. But she had left the BJP to rejoin the Congress when Sonia Gandhi took over the reins of the party in 1998.
Patil, a former chairperson of the central social welfare board, belongs to a family of freedom fighters. Her grandfather late Hutatma Vishnu Ganesh Pingle, a founder member of Gadar movement, was hanged by the British at Lahore in 1915. Her father, Atma Ram Patil was a member of the central legislative assembly of India in 1937 and led Goa Mukti Sangram. By nominating Patil to the Rajya Sabha, the Congress seeks to strengthen its base in Marathwada region. The party is visibly worried as the NCP, its coalition partner, has been eyeing the region for a long time.
Deshmukh, a former Maharashtra chief minister, hailed from this region. Another Congress stalwart and former chief minister Ashok Chavan also comes from Marathwada but has been lying low following his alleged involvement in the Adarsh housing scam.
Out of the total 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra, 46 are from eight districts of Marathwada. The NCP has 11 MLAs from the region and the Congress 18. The region also sends eight MPs to the Lok Sabha.
The polling for this Rajya Sabha seat will be held on January 12.