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Lok Sabha elections 2019| Row over Ahmednagar: Vikhe Patil slams Congress chief, Sharad Pawar

The senior Congress leader also said he will decide on his next political move after the LS polls. This implies he may want to see the poll results before making a decision.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 28, 2019 02:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Mumbai
Row over Ahmednagar,Vikhe Patil,Congress
Two days after his resignation as the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly was accepted, senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Saturday criticised the party leadership and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over the issue of his son, Sujay, contesting from the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha (LS) seat. (Hindustan Times)

Two days after his resignation as the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly was accepted, senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Saturday criticised the party leadership and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over the issue of his son, Sujay, contesting from the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha (LS) seat. He said he was “shocked” when party president Rahul Gandhi suggested he field Sujay from the Ahmednagar seat as an NCP candidate.

The senior Congress leader also said he will decide on his next political move after the LS polls. This implies he may want to see the poll results before making a decision. His close aides said he is considering both options — the BJP as well as the Shiv Sena.

After joining the BJP recently, Vikhe Patil’s son, Sujay, is contesting the polls from Ahmednagar LS constituency. Ahmednagar was with NCP as part of seat-sharing agreement between the party and the Congress. Although Sujay wanted to contest from the seat, the NCP refused to leave it for him, leading him to quit Congress. Recently, Vikhe Patil was also seen sharing the dais with Sena leaders in Shirdi, following which, he was served a show-cause notice for “anti-party activities”.

Expressing his annoyance against the Congress leadership, he said, “I was shocked to hear my party chief, Rahul Gandhi, say he has no objections to Sujay contesting as an NCP candidate from Ahmednagar. He [Gandhi] said this instead of standing by my side as I insisted on getting Ahmednagar from them [NCP],” said the sitting Shirdi MLA at his hometown Ahmednagar.

Vikhe Patil said his family was hurt by the NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s remarks about his father and former MP, Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, and blamed him for Sujay’s defection. “Sujay left Congress as he was hurt by Pawar’s statements about his grandfather,” he said, adding, “With Pawar’s remarks, NCP’s views about us was clear. Do they want us to commit political suicide?” He was referring to Pawar’s statement last month when he explained how he ensured the defeat of Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, contesting as a Congress rebel, in 1991 LS elections.

Talking about his next move, Vikhe Patil said, “I will talk to my supporters, deliberate with some senior leaders and take a political decision, but after the general elections.” Vikhe Patil’s close aides said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has already invited him to join the BJP. The Sena too has invited him. In fact, he had joined the Sena after the Sena-BJP government came to power in Maharashtra in 1995. He returned to the Congress in 1999.

Vikhe Patil further said some Congress leaders did not want NCP to leave the Ahmednagar seat for Sujay and they succeeded. Reacting to this remark, state Congress president, Ashok Chavan, said Sujay was “very persistent” about contesting and the NCP was not ready to leave the seat. “Joining the NCP was a better idea than joining the BJP to contest the polls. There was nothing wrong with the Congress president agreeing to let him contest as an NCP candidate.”

Chavan also said the party will decide its action against Vikhe Patil, based on the latter’s reply to the show-cause notice.

First Published: Apr 28, 2019 02:00 IST