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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Infighting spurs: Chavan calms nerves of leaders in Pune, Pawars speech disrupted in Madha

Two warring factions fought in a party meeting as Sharad Pawar was touring Madha. Parthviraj Chavan interacts with part leaders in Pune

pune Updated: Feb 23, 2019 16:31 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
NCP workers shout slogans against each other at party supremo Sharad Pawar’s rally in Madha, near Satara, on Friday. The factions were led by two NCP leaders - Shekhar Gore and Kavita Mhetre.
NCP workers shout slogans against each other at party supremo Sharad Pawar’s rally in Madha, near Satara, on Friday. The factions were led by two NCP leaders - Shekhar Gore and Kavita Mhetre.(HT/PHOTO)
         

Factionalism within the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Madha constituency was once again at the fore as two groups came face to face on Friday, with party chief Sharad Pawar addressing workers. Pawar is touring Madha as a part of the soft launch of his election campaign.

Pawar was addressing party workers in Satara’s Phaltan taluka, part of the Madha Lok Sabha seat from where the NCP president has announced he will contest the polls. However, Pawar had to cut short his speech as the two factions of workers – one led by Shekhar Gore and another by Kavita Mhetre – began shouting at each other.Despite Pawar’s appeal to stop the shouting, workers of both camps did not relent.

NCP sources said that the purpose of Pawar’s visit was to bring together warring factions of the party.

Gore’s camp was unhappy about the party giving an opportunity to Mhetre to share the dais with Pawar. The workers also shouted slogans against retired bureaucrat Prabhakar Deshmukh, whose proximity with the NCP has increased over the last few months. Deshmukh was also in the race for Madha Lok Sabha seat till Pawar announced his own name.

“My workers were unhappy as they felt that we are not been given equal opportunities and were not been heard by the party workers. This was a local issue and it had nothing against Sharad Pawar, who I consider as my leader,” said Gore.

Pawar had recently announced that he will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Madha, taking a departure from his earlier stand to not to be elected again in the lower house. The change in Pawar’s stand, according to political observers, was to increase party’s count in the Lok Sabha as well as compulsion of local politics at Madha, seen to be NCP’s bastion with many contenders seen as rivals.

Pawar had won Madha seat in 2009 with margin of over three lakh votes. However, in 2014, senior party leader Vijaysinh Mohite Patil won the seat with the reduced margin of 25,000 votes.

Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan (L) at a party meeting held at Harshvardhan Patil’s (C) home on Prabhat road on Friday.
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan (L) at a party meeting held at Harshvardhan Patil’s (C) home on Prabhat road on Friday. ( HT/PHOTO )

Chavan soothes frayed nerves of Congress leaders in city after that ‘letter to Rahul’

Days after senior Congress leader Ulhas Pawar wrote to Rahul Gandhi raising his concerns about the party in Maharashtra and Pune being in a “critical” state in the absence of “proper coordination”, senior party leaders from the city came out in support of the letter, forcing the state leadership to reassure them that cognisance has been taken.

The issue came up during a meeting held at Congress leader Harshavardhan Patil’s residence in Pune on Friday, when Prithviraj Chavan interacted with party leaders from the city.

During the meeting, Chavan gave a patient hearing to each Congman aspiring to contest the Lok Sabha polls and assured them that their views would be considered before any selection was made, according to a senior leader present at the meeting, requesting anonymity.

When asked about the letter after the meeting, Chavan, refusing to acknowledge differences in the party, said, “The purpose of the meeting was to talk to Congressmen from the city. I am not much aware about the letter.”

In the letter, Pawar, a former Member of Legislative Council, expressed his desire to contest the Lok Sabha seat from Pune, adding that state the Congress leadership was “conspiring” to import an outsider to contest the election in city.

Besides, Ulhas Pawar, other local leaders of party including Mohan Joshi and Abhay Chhajed have been aspiring to contest from Pune.

The Congress coordination committee has sent three names – that of Mohan Joshi, Arvind Shinde and Abhay Chhajed – to the state unit for taking a final call. “Since the meeting was about the Congress and its internal affairs, we did not discuss other things,” said Chavan, replying to a query on opposition to a non-Congress candidate being considered for the Pune constituency.

When contacted, Joshi said Pune has always preferred to give a ticket to a party loyalist and this time too they will follow the tradition.

On the letter sent to Rahul Gandhi, Joshi said many leaders share the same feelings mentioned in the letter. “I hope the party will take a positive note of it,” he said.