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Home / India News / Balasaheb Thorat appointed new Maharasthra Congress chief

Balasaheb Thorat appointed new Maharasthra Congress chief

appointment comes ahead of the Maharashtra assembly elections due later this year.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2019 00:12 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
File picture of Balasaheb Thorat and outgoing Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. (Photo @bb_thorat)
File picture of Balasaheb Thorat and outgoing Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. (Photo @bb_thorat)

The Congress party has resolved its leadership issue in Maharashtra by appointing senior party leader Balasaheb Thorat as the new president of the state unit and naming five working presidents to strike a balance between different castes and regions.

Thorat on Saturday succeeded Ashok Chavan, who resigned as state Congress president following the party’s debacle in Maharashtra in this year’s Lok Sabha elections.

The working presidents are former minister and national chairman of the party’s scheduled caste cell Nitin Raut; MLA and former state youth Congress president Vishwajeet Kadam; legislators Basavraj Patil, Yashomati Thakur and former MLA Muzaffar Hussain.

The team’s composition was seen as an exercise in social engineering as well as an attempt to give a representation to different regions of Maharashtra.

Of the 26 Lok Sabha seats it contested in alliance with Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party and other small allies in Maharashtra, the Congress could win just one, down from the two it won in 2014.

With barely three months left for the next assembly polls, the party had been confronting a leadership crisis in Maharashtra after both state unit president Ashok Chavan and Mumbai chapter chief Milind Deora stepped down by accepting responsibility for the party’s poor performance.

“Before going for Assembly polls, the high command wants to rejuvenate the state unit by appointing a state president and five working presidents. The idea is to give representation to most of the regions in the organisational setup,” said a senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity.

A prominent Maratha leader, Thorat comes from Ahmednagar district that falls in between western and northern Maharashtra.

Raut and Thakur come from Vidarbha. Kadam hails from Sangli district in western Maharashtra, Patil is from Latur district in central Maharashtra (Marathwada) and Hussain comes from Mira Road near Mumbai.

Thorat and Kadam are from Maratha community while Raut is a Dalit leader from Nagpur. Patil comes from Lingayat community and Hussain represents the Muslim community. The Congress is looking at attracting different sections that were with the party but have not supported it in recent elections.

It also appointed Nandurbar MLA KC Padavi, a tribal leader, as the leader of Congress Legislative Party replacing Thorat.

Preparing for the upcoming polls, the party has constituted an election manifesto committee, campaign committee, publicity and publication committee, media and communication committee and an election management team.

In the 2014 assembly elections, the Congress could win only 42 seats against its tally of 82 in 2009 and failed to retain power in the state. The party had contested the assembly polls on its own and suffered its worst defeat in a state once considered to be its bastion.

Anti-incumbency, its failure to forge alliance with NCP and poor election management were seen to have cost the party dearly in the crucial state.

This time, it plans to reunite with the NCP and also take smaller allies on board. Former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, recently met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who called on her in Delhi.