Infighting in Maharashtra unit of Congress took a violent turn in front of party chief Sonia Gandhi as supporters of Revenue Minister Narayan Rane demanding change of leadership clashed with followers of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh at a party rally in Mumbai.
Rane's supporters shouting slogans also demanded immediate installation of Rane as Chief Minister, drawing retaliation by other Congressmen resulting in a scuffle.
Soon after Gandhi reached the NSE ground, venue of the state Congress convention, a group among the audience turned violent and threw chairs and bottles.
AICC general secretary Margaret Alva and MPCC chief Prabha Rau admonished the protestors. Rau said those who indulge in such acts cannot be Congressmen.
"We know how to tackle people who have come from outside and are creating the ruckus," Rau said.
Rane, however, denied any role in the incident, claiming "they were not my supporters. I have nothing to do with this. It is a conspiracy to malign me".
It is no secret in state politics that Rane has been eyeing the chief ministerial chair since he joined Congress in 2006.
In December last year, Rane had publicly criticised Deshmukh's style of functioning.
Alva said 'this is not the place to raise slogans. If outsiders have come here, they should get out. This is Congress workers meeting. Soniaji has not come here to listen to the slogans'.