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Congress names candidates for Raver, Sangli; Gaikwad likely from Pune

While former MP Ulhas Patil was announced as candidate for Raver, Vishal Patil will contest on ally Swabhimani Paksh’s ticket in Sangli

mumbai Updated: Mar 31, 2019 01:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Congress,election
Congress state unit chief Ashok Chavan announced the candidature of Ulhas Patil from the Raver constituency.(HT FILE)

The Congress seems to have worked out solutions to its problems in three constituencies — Pune, Sangli and Raver.

While former MP Ulhas Patil was announced as candidate for Raver constituency, Vishal Patil, brother of former Congress MP Pratik Patil, will contest on ally Swabhimani Paksh’s ticket in Sangli.

A senior Congress leader said the party is planning to field Maratha community leader Pravin Gaikwad in Pune constituency.

Pravin Gaikwad joined the party in the presence of senior All India Congress Committee (AICC) functionaries on Saturday. Ulhas Patil’s candidature was announced by Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan. He will be contesting opposite Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) sitting MP Raksha Khadse, who is the daughter-in-law of senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse.

According to party insiders, top leaders of Maharashtra Congress feel Gaikwad would be a strong candidate in Pune opposite BJP’s Girish Bapat, the state food and civil supplies minister. The Congress aims to take advantage of the strong presence of Maratha community in Pune constituency. The BJP dropped its sitting MP Anil Shirole, who is a Maratha and fielded Bapat, a Brahmin. Gaikwad was a leader of Sambhaji Brigade, a Maratha community outfit.

Gaikwad’s candidature may kick up a controversy as Sambhaji Brigade was blamed for the attack on Pune’s Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in 2004 in protest against a book written by American historian James Laine. The book, ‘Shivaji:Hindu King in Islamic India’ was banned by the Maharashtra government for alleged derogatory remarks against Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji. The Sambhaji Brigade had alleged that history scholars from BORI had helped Laine.

Gaikwad and the brigade have also been aggressive in their demand for reservation for Maratha community in government jobs and education. A senior Congress leader said they were expecting Gaikwad’s candidature to be announced from Delhi.

In Sangli, Vishal Patil, brother of former Congress MP Pratik Patil, will contest on ally Swabhimani Paksh’s ticket. The Patil brothers were unhappy with the Congress for leaving the seat for its ally. Pratik Patil had threatened to quit the party in protest.

A senior Congress leader said the problem in Sangli has been resolved as Vishal was keen on a party ticket and now would be fielded by Swabhimani Paksh. Vishal will take on BJP’s sitting MP Sanjay Patil.

First Published: Mar 31, 2019 00:51 IST