Congress President Sonia Gandhi has left it to Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to deliver in the forthcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections by appointing his loyalists to key party posts, a decision that has left Revenue Minister Narayan Rane further isolated.
Gandhi on Sunday appointed Manikrao Thakre, the new Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief, replacing Prabha Rau, who has been elevated as Himachal Pradesh governor.
Thakre belongs to the Kunbi Maratha community and hails from Yavatmal district in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, which witnessed high incidence of farmers' suicides during the past three years.
Former Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) chief Gurudas Kamat will be the chairman of the state campaign committee, a post recently held by former chief ministers. Under his charge, the party had won all but one Lok Sabha seats from the megapolis.
Jayant Awale, a Dalit leader from Kolhapur district, has been named PCC working president while Kripashankar Singh, a migrant from UP, will be the new MRCC chief.
The appointments were made to give social and regional balance to the team and also to send a message to the Hindi-speaking community in the state. North Indians constitute a major chunk in Mumbai.
Rane has been pressing for Deshmukh's removal as chief minister.