The Congress’ plan to unseat the Shiv Sena in the civic body is in jeopardy because of serious infighting between top leaders in the party’s city unit. The feuds have made the candidate selection process tough and upset so many aspirants that there is rebellion in almost every ward from where the party is contesting.
Following allegations that some senior leaders were playing unfair and that tickets were being sold at a hefty price, the party constituted a committee under city unit president Kripashankar Singh. But the list of candidates it finalised on Tuesday has upset those without tickets, many of whom are planning to contest against the party’s nominees. This will cause a division of the Congress votes.
Through the entire process, instead of focusing on selecting candidates who could win, the city MPs and legislators have been fighting among themselves for tickets for their relatives and cronies.
It’s not that the Congress alone faces rebellion. All major parties have similar problems. But the crisis is more intense for the Congress, which has for the first time formed a pre-poll alliance with the NCP to unseat the Sena.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has been talking to all factions, but his efforts have not yielded results. He is now expected to neutralise the revolt by sweet-talking with rebels or suspending them for bad conduct. Congress spokesperson Sanjay Dutt downplayed the issue. “It happens in every party. Our top leadership will manage to convince rebels to withdraw,” he said.
The Congress released 130 names in two installments, but has not declared its nominations in 25 wards. Many feel these 25 will go to the kin and associates of senior leaders. Almost each of the 40 legislators, eight MPs and many office-bearers want their representatives in the race.
The family of senior leaders such as Prathamesh Kolamkar (legislator Kalidas Kolamkar’s son), Samir Chavan (legislator Madhu Chavan’s son), Sagar Singh (legislator Ramesh Thakur’s son) and Nitesh Singh (legislator Rajhans Singh’s son) are vying for tickets. Personal assistants to MP Sanjay Nirupam, Babu Roy and George Abraham too are in the fray.