2019 Lok Sabha polls: Maharashtra Congress struggles to keep house united

Apart from the task of defeating the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress is struggling to keep its house united with rising infighting
After it announced candidates for 13 seats, infighting has surfaced in open forums and has even reached the party’s high command.(HT)
After it announced candidates for 13 seats, infighting has surfaced in open forums and has even reached the party’s high command.(HT)
Published on Mar 25, 2019 01:33 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai

Apart from the task of defeating the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress is struggling to keep its house united with rising infighting.

After it announced candidates for 13 seats, infighting has surfaced in open forums and has even reached the party’s high command. Aspirants from various constituencies have become voices of dissent. The BJP and Sena too have their own internal troubles, with their sitting MPs who were denied tickets threatening to go against the party’s candidates.

On Saturday, an audio clip of state Congress chief Ashok Chavan was leaked, in which Chavan said the Chandrapur candidate decided by the party was against his recommendation. On Sunday, the party replaced Vinayak Bangade with Suresh Dhanorkar. Chavan faced another jolt in Aurangabad where his close confidante and party MLA Abdul Sattar announced he would contest as an independent against party candidate Subhash Zambad. While Sattar even reportedly met CM Devendra Fadnavis, Zambad said he was ready to quit for Sattar.

In Bhiwandi too, party candidate Suresh Taware is facing opposition from within. The party’s 2014 candidate Vishwanath Patil, who was eyeing candidature, has reportedly expressed his displeasure. Another section of leaders wanted Suresh Mhatre, former MNS leader, to be fielded as Congress candidate.

The party’s Sangli unit is facing strong rebellion within, resulting in its leader and former union minister Pratik Patil quitting the party on Sunday. Besides Pratik, leaders from his opponent camp led by MLA Vishvajeet Kadam are upset over the possibility of the party conceding the seat to Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha.

Meanwhile, in the BJP and Sena camp, former union minister and sitting BJP MP Dilip Gandhi has raised the flag of revolt by announcing his son Surendra’s candidature as an independent candidate from Ahmednagar. The BJP had dropped him for Sujay Vikhe Patil, who joined the party from Congress. BJP leader Rajendra Patle has threatened to quit after the party announced Sunil Mendhe as its candidate from Bhandara Gondiya.

The BJP is planning to field Ranjit Naik Nimbalkar, a Congress leader, from Madha after his official induction on Monday. This may upset Ranjitsinh Mohite Patil, who recently defected to the party from NCP .

Sena’s sitting MP from Osmanabad Ravindra Gaikwad is upset over the rejection of his candidature. He convened a meeting of supporters in Osmanabad on Saturday, while others protested in Mumbai. Gaikwad was the only MP among the sitting 18 party MPs to not be re-nominated.

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