More trouble is in the offing for the Congress in Vidarbha ahead of next Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
Congress rebel leader Ranjit Deshmukh, who was largely responsible for the Congress defeat in the Ramtek Lok Sabha by-poll, is all prepared to register a new regional political outfit with a primary motive of denting the Congress stronghold.
Deshmukh told HT on Wednesday that following his successful attempt of cutting new entrants like the Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, he wanted to organize like-minded disgruntled Congress loyalists under one umbrella.
“I will register my new party – Kisan Vikas Aghadi with the election authorities very soon,” he said. “We’ll contest next Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.” Currently, Deshmukh is busy finalizing the new party’s constitution and objectives.
He said the party would basically focus on three issues – agriculture growth, economic development and removal of backlog of backward regions. “I feel that there is a large scope for an issue-based regional party in Maharashtra.”
Deshmukh, who was expelled from the party for six years after refused to withdraw from Ramtek, has plans to dent the Congress chances in forthcoming polls. He expects to repeat the Ramtek experiment wherein he contested by-polls as an independent supported by the Kisan Vikas Aghadi that his supporters had formed during the recent zilla parishad elections. He garnered 79,000 votes giving an edge to the Shiv Sena nominee Prakash Jadhav who emerged victorious by 33,000 votes against the Congress candidate Subodh Mohite.
But this time, Deshmukh’s supporters will officially contest as the Aghadi candidates. To begin with, former two-time State Congress chief and agriculture minister will concentrate on the Vidarbha region. Vidarbha has 66 Assembly and nine Lok Sabha seats.
“I will focus on Vidarbha where there are so many issues like farmers suicides still to be resolved. I will be happy even if my new party manages to win 15 Assembly and tow-three Lok Sabha seats. Thereafter, I will shift my focus to other regions.”
With more than two years ahead of next polls, Deshmukh has already identified disgruntled elements in the Congress. “The Congressmen, who don’t approve of the party’s lackluster approach to the loyalists, are with me.”
In the meantime, loyalists from across the state are encouraging Deshmukh. Said a senior Congress leader from western Maharashtra, now sidelined by the high command: “The loyalists will certainly talk openly and stand behind Deshmukh at the right time.”