186 from Congress apply for Assembly tickets from Mumbai
In the backdrop of party leaders joining the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, around 186 aspirants – an average of five in all 36 constituencies – from the Congress in Mumbai appeared for interviews for party tickets before a panel of observers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A panel of two senior members has been appointed as party observers for each district. The panels interviewed around 900 applicants across the state on July 29, 30 and 31. Of the 36 segments in the city, Congress has four MLAs, three of which are Muslims and a Dalit.
Former state unit chief Manikrao Thakre and former minister Harshavardhan Patil conducted the interviews in Mumbai. Most of the second-rung leaders from the party applied for tickets from their constituency. Interviews for Mumbai South, South Central and North were held on Tuesday, while for the remaining segments were held on Wednesday. The number of applications from Muslim and Dalit communities was significant.
Some of the constituencies in the city such as Magathane in North Mumbai had no applicants, considering the seat may go to the Nationalist Congress Party in the seat-sharing pact. Constituencies such as Dahisar, Byculla, Shivaji Nagar and Wadala received six applications each. In Mumbadevi, two young applicants – Sayyed Zeeshan Ahmed, son of former state minister, and Congress leader Sayyed Ahmed – dared party’s sitting MLA Amin Patel by applying for the post. “The exodus from the party will not affect us, as the new generation is ready to fill the gap. The party should give adequate representation to the community,” he said.
In Dahisar, party’s spokesperson Arun Sawant is one of the contenders. In his interview that lasted for about 10 minutes on Tuesday, he presented his case before the panel highlighting the work he did in the past few years.
After party MLA Kalidas Kolambkar joined the BJP, local leaders in Wadala are hoping to get a ticket. “The party has a fixed vote share of 29,000 in the constituency. A candidate with capacity of 6,000 to 8,000 more votes can win the seat,” said Mahendra Munagekar, one of the applicants. “We have received better response than 2014. Younger leaders have shown great interest in fighting the polls,” said Ganesh Patil, general secretary, Maharashtra Congress. Dhiraj Deshmukh, younger son of former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh and brother of party MLA Amit Deshmukh, has sought candidature from Latur rural constituency.
State Congress president Balasaheb Thorat and former state unit chief Ashok Chavan held a review meeting with Mumbai leaders, including Milind Deora, to take stock of Mumbai seats.