If the Congress high command accepts chief minister Prithviraj Chavan's counsel, the city Congress will soon have a Marathi president.
Earlier this week, Kripashankar Singh resigned as city Congress chief after the Bombay high court directed criminal proceedings against him over disproportionate assets.
Following the party's debacle in the civic polls, Chavan sent his leaders in New Delhi a performance analysis. The report said that that Marathi voters in Mumbai did not vote for the Congress, leading to its debacle. "To earn the backing of local [Marathi] voters, Chavan has suggested that a Marathi leader should get the post," said a senior leader who is in the know of the matter. The leader did not wish to be identified because of sensitive nature of the issue.
"Appointing a Marathi leadership would send a positive message ahead of the general and Assembly elections. In the recent civic polls, the Shiv Sena and the MNS thrived on their sons-of-soil agenda," the leader said.
If Chavan's advice is heeded, the high command will have to choose from candidates such as Bhai Jagtap, Madhu Chavan, Ashok Jadhav, Chandrakant Handore (all legislators), MP Eknath Gaikwad and former legislator Janardan Chandurkar. Of these, all except Jagtap owe allegiance to influential seniors like Gurudas Kamat and Murli Deora, who lead their own camps in city Congress. Kamat is backing Handore, while others want Chandurkar. A deadlock could tilt the scales in favour of trade union leader Jagtap, who is independent of these factions.
Undeterred by lobbying for a local leader, non-Marathi aspirants like members of parliament and All India Congress Committee secretaries Priya Dutt and Sanjay Nirupam have reportedly thrown their hat in the ring.