Infighting and factionalism within the Congress have hit the process of shortlisting candidates in almost 10 key constituencies. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and MPCC president Manikaro Thakre have decided to leave the matter to the AICC.
To begin with, the party’s local leadership has expressed its displeasure for enforcing primary in Latur and Wardha.
In Latur, which was the stronghold of late Vilasrao Deshmukh, the district leadership feels that views of the family should have been taken into consideration while finalising the candidate instead of calling for primary. Sitting MP Jayawanrao Awle has decided not to contest.
In Pune, the emergence of Vishwajeet Kadam, son of minister Patangrao Kadam, as a contender challenging the political legacy of sitting MP Suresh Kalmadi has made it difficult for Congress to take a quick decision. Party sources said there was pressure to consider Kalmadi’s wife as the candidate for LS polls.
In Aurangabad, supporters of Uttam Singh Pawar, who contested last time and lost, are pitted against Nitin Patil, an MLA. The name of MLA Kalyan Kale is also being discussed as a probable candidate.
In Bhiwandi, where Rahul Gandhi held a rally Thursday, complaints against sitting MP Suresh Taware have forced the party to change the candidate.
Candidates whose names have been cleared are Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde (Solapur), Union Minister of State for Coal Prateek Patil (Sangli), former union minister Mukul Wasnik (Ramtek), sitting MP Vilas Muttemwar (Nagpur) and Amrishbhai Patel (Dhule).
The decision of fielding former chief minister Ashok Chavan from Nanded has also been recommended to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The party admits it has still not completed the process of dialogue with NCP over seat-swapping. NCP wants Raigad for state’s Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare. In return, it wants to give Maval seat, where Ramshet Thakur is the Congress candidate.
In Shirdi, the party intends to field former Shiv Sena MP Bhausaheb Wagchaure, who joined Congress last month. In Chandrapur, the party is considering minister Sanjay Deotale. In the 2009 LS polls, its candidate was Naresh Puglia, who lost to BJP.
However, all the five Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai will see sitting MPs being fielded again. They are – Milind Deora (Mumbai South), Priya Dutt (Mumbai North Central), Eknath Gaikwad (Mumbai South Central), Sanjay Nirupam (Mumbai North) and Gurudas Kamat (Mumbai North West).