Unrest in Cong over leaders’ favourites

Alongside the expected lobbying for nominations as polls to some seats being vacated in the Legislative Council near,the Congress is also facing a rising unrest against senior leaders nominating their aides,leaving deserving party workers with a track record of organisational work out in the cold.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai | Published:June 20, 2012 5:59 am

Alongside the expected lobbying for nominations as polls to some seats being vacated in the Legislative Council near,the Congress is also facing a rising unrest against senior leaders nominating their aides,leaving deserving party workers with a track record of organisational work out in the cold. With the party unable to strike a balance between introducing fresh faces and maintaining the status quo,leaders say the last legislative council election before the 2014 Assembly elections should be used to strengthen districts and regions that are poorly represented in the legislature,though that appears unlikely to happen.

Of the four Congress MLCs retiring in July,at least two are certain to be given a fresh nomination,including Manikrao Thakre by virtue of his being the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president who is also a likely future minister in the proposed Cabinet expansion. The other candidate set for renomination is Ulhas Pawar,a close confidante of Union Minister and former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Pawar,who has completed three terms or 18 years as MLC,will start a record fourth term if renominated,leading to significant discontnet even in the Deshmukh camp,said senior state Congress leaders. “Ulhas Pawar has been chairman of the Rest of Maharashtra Development Board for the past eight years,enjoying a Cabinet rank. Prior to that,he was chairman of the Western Maharashtra Development Board,” said a Congressman. “So naturally,even the former chief minister’s followers believe he should now give an opportunity to other supporters who are equally eligible and deserving.”

A third candidate is also set to be picked by a senior leader,Industries Minister Narayan Rane,whose supporter Rajan Teli is among the Congress retirees from the Upper House. While Rane’s younger son Nitesh appeared to be making a cheeky reference to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and MPCC president Manikrao Thakre,both MLCs,when he posted on a microblogging site that he would not opt for a “backdoor” entry into legislature,several senior Congress leaders said the Industries minister had indeed sought a nomination for Nitesh.

“But the Congress high command has reservations about Nitesh,and even the MPCC president had earlier opposed his running Swabhimaan,a parallel organisation,” said one leader. Nevertheless,the seat to be vacated by Teli will be filled by a Rane supporter,confirmed senior leaders. Whether Teli is renominated remains to be seen.

That leaves only one seat,being vacated by SQ Jama,to be filled by another minority community candidate. “There is unhappiness over the fact that deserving leaders are unable to find opportunity owing to this system of senior leaders picking MLC candidates from among their close supporters,” the Congress leader said. “So,given that Hussain Dalwai was nominated to the Rajya Sabha only recently,there is a growing feeling that a minority community candidate may be accomodated the next time.” This will give party workers at least one seat offering some leverage for new faces. “At least some other minority group should be considered,” he added.

Amid the various equations,even the chief minister,inclined to nominate Rohidas Patil from northern Maharashtra with an eye on the future Cabinet expansion,may not be able to get his candidate in,pointed out other leaders. Also,former MLC Sanjay Dutt,who resigned in order to make way for Chavan to be elected to the legislature,is likely to be the victim once again with his turn postponed indefinitely. Even though there is a section that believes ignoring a legislator who sacrificed his seat for the party sends out a wrong message,others admitted Dutt’s name is unlikely to be included when the party high command finalises its list of candidates by the month-end.

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