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Congress central committee urges Maharashtra leaders to stay united

The central committee, headed by All India Congress Committee general secretary and state in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal and central electoral observer Madhusudan Mistry met top state leaders on Saturday.

mumbai Updated: Mar 31, 2019 01:22 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
Congress,Maharashtra politics,Maharashtra Lok Sabha election
The committee asked the state leaders to put up a united front as Maharashtra is one of the important states for the Congress. (Hemanshi Kamani/HT)

With infighting and rebellion threatening to damage Congress’s prospects in Maharashtra — a crucial state with 48 Lok Sabha (LS) seats — a three-member team appointed by the party leadership on Saturday urged state Congress leaders to work together and appointed senior leaders in-charge of each district to sort out issues.

The central committee, headed by All India Congress Committee general secretary and state in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal and central electoral observer Madhusudan Mistry met top state leaders on Saturday. The committee asked the state leaders to put up a united front as Maharashtra is one of the important states for the Congress. Senior leaders were appointed in-charge of each district in the state to sort out local issues and ensure the party units work together. “All the leaders have promised to keep aside their differences as our main aim is to make Rahul Gandhi the prime minister. Both the parties [Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)] will put up a united fight,” Kharge said.

A Congress leader, who did not wish to be named, said the central observers were emphatic that all the issues will be taken up after the LS polls. “Anyone defying the party will have to face the music,” he said.

Ahead of the LS elections, the Congress has been struggling to keep its house in order in Maharashtra, thanks to infighting, defections and rebellion involving several senior leaders. Senior leader and leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, has been allegedly busy helping his son Sujay, who is contesting the election on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket from Ahmednagar constituency.

There have also been instances of rebellion in several constituencies with the party scouring for better options instead of repeating candidates who lost elections in the past. Former MP Bhausaheb Wakchaure has threatened to contest as a rebel from Shirdi constituency where Congress has fielded a legislator, Bhausaheb Kamble. In Aurangabad constituency, the party’s senior legislator, Abdul Sattar, has announced he will contest as an independent against the party’s official candidate. A veteran tribal leader of the party, Manikrao Gavit, who was a Union minister, has also threatened to quit the party as the candidature in Nandurbar was not given to his son. In Chandrapur, a faction led by former MP Naresh Puglia has objected to Balu Dhanorkar’s candidature. Dhanorkar is a Shiv Sena legislator who quit the party to contest on a Congress ticket. The party also had to change its Mumbai unit president due to infighting.

Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is likely to address campaign rallies in Maharashtra on April 5.

First Published: Mar 31, 2019 01:22 IST