Cong split over event to immerse Deshmukh asheshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/cong-split-over-event-to-immerse-deshmukh-ashes/

Cong split over event to immerse Deshmukh ashes

A scheduled programme for the immersion of the ashes of late union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has led to some unseemly bickering within the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee,with supporters of the former chief minister suspicious of state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre’s initiative and some senior Congressmen preferring to distance themselves from the programme.

A scheduled programme for the immersion of the ashes of late union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has led to some unseemly bickering within the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee,with supporters of the former chief minister suspicious of state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre’s initiative and some senior Congressmen preferring to distance themselves from the programme.

Reacting to reports that the party high command was displeased with the initiative,MPCC president Thakre had to clarify on Friday that the All India Congress Committee had,in fact,given its okay to the programme. “Undue politicisation of this event,which is our tribute to a leader who helped build the party,is not correct,” said Thakre. Sources close to Thakre indicated that a motivated campaign was working to discredit the MPCC’s tribute to Deshmukh.

The MPCC plans to fly a delegation of party leaders to Babhalgaon,the former chief minister’s birthplace in Latur district,on August 27,a day after the completion of the 13th day rites. The ashes will then be brought to Mumbai,from where district-level office bearers will carry an urn each for immersion at various spots across the state. Even the Latur district Congress leadership will visit Mumbai to collect an urn. Thakre,former Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh and cooperatives minister Harshvardhan Patil are among those attend the event.

While MPCC sources said some senior state Congressmen would stay away from the programme,they also confirmed that there was resentment among legislators and partymen who have been staunch supporters of Deshmukh.

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“Manikrao Thakre’s appointment four years ago to the post of MPCC chief was based on Deshmukh’s backing. Deshmukh had supported his candidature though many believed there were more senior candidates available,” said a party leader. Following Deshmukh’s resignation after the 26/11 terror attacks,however,Deshmukh reportedly believed that Thakre and AICC leader in charge of Maharashtra affairs Mohan Prakash were instrumental in sidelining him from state affairs. “So there’s suspicion at the MPCC chief’s initiative for this tribute.”

Meanwhile,party leaders said the general assumption that Deshmukh’s son Amit,a first-term legislator,would soon be anointed his successor in the party has not gone down too well with the party top brass. “Succession is not a given in the Congress,you can draw parallels with the Jaganmohan Reddy incidents. There will be no concessions for Amit even though he may have handled Deshmukh’s constituency Latur for many years,” said another Congressman.