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2019 Lok Sabha elections: Congress sets up Maharashtra panel to keep house in order

The Congress high command stepped in to control the damage in a state that has highest Lok Sabha seats [48] after Uttar Pradesh.

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 30, 2019 01:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Struggling to keep the house united after defections and rebellions, the Congress has appointed a committee of key central leaders for deliberation with the state leadership on Saturday. Prominent Maratha leader Pravin Gaikwad is also likely to join Congress on Saturday in presence of senior leaders and could be announced as a party candidate from Pune.

The Congress high command stepped in to control the damage in a state that has highest Lok Sabha seats [48] after Uttar Pradesh.

The central committee, headed by AICC general secretary Maharashtra in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge, general secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal and central electoral observer Madhusudan Mistry, will hold the meeting in Mumbai. Official party candidates are facing rebels in constituencies, such as Aurangabad, Ramtek, and had to change its candidate in Chandrapur after an embarrassing audio clip leak. On Friday, veteran tribal leader of the party, Manikrao Gavit, who was a union minister, threatened to quit the party because the candidature in Nandurbar was not given to his son. Senior party leader and Opposition Leader in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil is openly working to ensure victory of his son, Sujay, who is contesting from Ahmednagar on a BJP ticket.

“The central team is expected to give responsibilities of each constituency to senior leaders from the state, including former CMs and ministers. The leaders may have the responsibility of two to three constituencies. The leaders will be given a brief to try to patch up warring factions at local level to contain any damage. The steps are being taken after senior leaders complained to the party leadership that they were not being taken into confidence by state leadership,” said a senior Congress leader.

Meanwhile, Pravin Gaikwad, a leading Maratha leader who was associated with Sambhaji Brigade and later joined the Peasants and Workers Party, is joining the Congress. “His name for the Pune seat has almost been finalised and official announcement will soon be done. It may lead to further unrest and the local party leaders have opposed candidature of any ‘outsider’ like Gaikwad,” said another leader from Pune said.

Gaikwad, who has a following in the Maratha community, will be pitted against BJP’s Girish Bapat, who is a Brahmin. Congress and even NCP feels that the move will help them garner voters of Marathas upset over the reservation issue.

The decision about sharing the Sangli seat with Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha is expected to be officially taken during the meeting.

Congress leader Vishal Patil or Dhangar leader Gopichand Padalkar could be the Swabhimani Paksha candidate.

Meanwhile, Congress is releasing a book in two languages highlighting ‘100 mistakes by prime minister Narendra Modi.’

First Published: Mar 30, 2019 01:22 IST

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