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Cong leaders eye top party posts

mumbai Updated: Oct 22, 2010 01:10 IST
Dharmendra Jore
Dharmendra Jore
Hindustan Times
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Congress leaders in the state are busy lobbying for their kin, supporters and protégés for three coveted organisational posts of Congress (MPCC) president, chief of party’s Mumbai unit (MRCC) and president of the state youth Congress.

There is speculation that the existing MPCC chief, Manikrao Thakre, will soon get the boot because of his embarrassing ‘money-for-Sonia-rally’ blooper telecast a day before the rally in Sewagram last week. Thakre was shown telling ex-minister Satish Chaturvedi that chief minister Ashok Chavan was not willing to shell out money for the rally even though other ministers had contributed Rs 10 lakh each.

Ex-CMs Vilasrao Deshmukh and Chavan want their own supporters to replace Thakre. Ex-CM Sushilkumar Shinde, who is not very keen on lobbying hard, might ask for a Dalit candidate.

Party sources said Chavan did not want a Deshmukh supporter. “A close friend and MP, Avinash Pandey, may find favour with Chavan.” Chavan would not mind supporting veteran Congressman Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil either.

Sources from the Deshmukh camp say they have given the party three options. If a Dalit is required, they have suggested Jaywant Awle (from Deshmukh’s hometown Latur) as state unit chief. There is a demand that the next chief come from western Maharashtra to counter NCP, which is strong in that region.

In Mumbai, union minister of state Gurudas Kamat is trying hard to displace Kripashankar Singh. A delegation of Kamat supporters — local MLAs Chandrakant Handore and Jagannath Shetty, ex-MLA Yousuf Abrahani, will meet Sonia Gandhi on Friday.

“We will show Soniaji news reports on corruption charges against Singh and tell her that we don’t want Singh to lead the party in the forthcoming civic polls,” one of the delegates said. Two weeks ago, Singh’s supporters — minister Naseem Khan and MLA Amin Patel met Gandhi to seek her approval for his continuation. “We told Soniaji that Singh is being victimised. He won us majority seats in the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Mumbai,” said a supporter.

Deshmukh, Shinde and revenue minister Narayan Rane want the party to appoint their

son or daughter as youth Congress chief. Deshmukh’s son Amit and Shinde’s daughter Praniti are legislators while Rane’s son Nitesh leads an NGO.