2019 Lok Sabha elections: Rahul Gandhi accepts Vikhe Patil’s resignation from post
Congress president Rahul Gandhi accepted the resignation of Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil as the leader of the Opposition in the legislative Assembly. Vikhe Patil had submitted his resignation to Gandhi immediately after his son and BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate Sujay joined the saffron party in March.
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan made the announcement in a press conference held in Shirdi on Thursday. “The party leadership has accepted Vikhe Patil’s resignation as leader of Opposition. I have spoken to Vikhe Patil, who has expressed his desire to continue working for the party,” said Chavan. He also said the resignation of Karan Sasane from his post as Ahmednagar district president too was accepted on Thursday and the entire district unit has been dissolved.
According to party leaders, Vikhe Patil had submitted his resignation on March 20, after meeting Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC general secretary in-charge, Maharashtra. He had contended he was helpless as the state leadership failed in getting the Ahmednagar seat exchanged with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and his son was left with no option, but to join the BJP so that he could contest the Lok Sabha seat.
The decision of accepting the resignation comes a day ahead of Gandhi’s rally in Ahmednagar on Friday. Earlier, Sasane had declared he would not campaign for the party candidate from Shirdi — Bhausaheb Kamble. Sasane was appointed as district president to replace Anna Shelar, who joined BJP with Sujay Vikhe Patil. Sasane’s resignation prompted the Congress leadership to accept Vikhe Patil’s resignation as he is believably behind
the resignation of district president.
Sasane claimed that he resigned because Kamble insulted his late father and former MLA Jayant Sasane. He also had declared that he would not campaign for Kamble, but will remain in the party.
Last month, Congress faced embarrassment after Sujay Vikhe Patil joined the BJP amid fanfare and barely two days within the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections. A section of the Congress leaders in the state have been demanding action against Vikhe Patil as the party had lost ethical ground owing to the defection by the son of the leader of the Opposition.
Congress has stood short of suspending Vikhe Patil as the party fears that it would lose the post of leader of Opposition owing to numbers. Congress has 42 MLAs in the Assembly, while NCP has 41.
The Congress will now have to submit a letter to the Assembly speaker to replace the leader of Opposition in the lower house.
The state legislature has one session left, starting in the third week of June, before the Assembly elections later this year.
Vikhe Patil was accused of giving tacit support to Sujay, who was the BJP contestant from Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat and was blamed for working behind the scenes in his campaign. Party sources said he was in touch with the supporters of his father, late Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, in Rahuri, Parner and other areas in Ahmednagar district, and exhorted them to support Sujay.
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