Hit by factionalism, Cong cracks the whip against dissidents

On Thursday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also held a meeting to broker truce in this case.

| Mumbai | Published: April 12, 2014 1:03 am

With internal rivalry affecting the Congress’s election pitch in certain Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, the party Friday issued a stern warning asking dissidents to fall in line or face action.

State Congress president Manikrao Thakre said notices had been issued to Congress legislators Vijay Sawant and Ramprasad Bordikar for working against United Progressive Alliance’s candidates in their respective constituencies.

Sawant has been pulled up for criticising senior Congress leader and state Industries Minister Narayan Rane and his son Nilesh, the party’s sitting MP who is seeking a second term from the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency. “The notice requires him to begin campaigning for Nilesh and offer apologies for the press conference he held,” Thakre said.

Action against Bordikar follows a complaint from the NCP alleging that the Jintur MLA has been involved in working against its candidate, Vijay Bhambale, who is contesting for the Parbhani Lok Sabha seat in Marathwada. There is intense personal rivalry between Bordikar and Bhamble, who had earlier fought against each other in the 2009 assembly polls.

Without naming anyone, Thakre also issued a warning to senior Congress leaders who have not been participating in Mumbai North Central MP Priya Dutt’s poll campaign. “While there can be differences, the party’s discipline requires that once LS candidature is announced, all party leaders and workers actively campaign from her. We are hoping they fall in line or else action for violating party discipline would be taken.”

The Dutt camp has been complaining that Guardian Minister (Mumbai suburbs) Naseem Khan and former minister Kripashankar Singh and workers loyal to them were not actively campaigning for her. On Thursday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also held a meeting to broker truce in this case.

In Palghar, where the party withdrew the candidature of minister Rajendra Gavit at the last minute extending its support to the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Thakre acknowledged that Gavit, party legislator Muzaffar Hussain and senior leader Damodar Shingda had objected to the move. Shingda’s son Sachin has in fact filed his nomination as an independent.

In Chandrapur, where polls were held on April 10, Thakre admitted that party’s candidate and state minister Sanjay Deotale had complained against former MP Naresh Pugalia for working against him. Former CM A R Antulay has also been publicly campaigning against NCP’s Sunil Tatkare in Raigad. Thakre said the state Congress had sent reports regarding the two senior leaders to the party’s high command.

Despite several efforts, Thakre also conceded that the differences between Congress and NCP workers in Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg were yet to be resolved. Supporters of NCP MLA Deepak Kesarkar have defied NCP’s order to campaign for Rane so far.

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