A family feud has broken out over a Congress election ticket in Vidarbha’s Chandrapur region with senior cabinet minister Sanjay Deotale and his younger cousin Vijay Deotale pitted against each other.
Sanjay Deotale, a four-time legislator from Warora Assembly constituency in the region, is Maharashtra’s environment minister and the guardian minister of Chandrapur district. On the other hand, Vijay, a medical practitioner, is the son of former Maharashtra minister the late Dadasaheb Deotale.
The environment minister had earlier contested on a Congress ticket from the Chandrapur Lok Sabha seat, where he was humbled by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hansraj Ahir by over 2.36 lakh votes. “He had his shot during the Lok Sabha poll where people rejected him even in his own Assembly belt,” Vijay told The Indian Express, confirming that he would contest as an Independent if the Congress denied him a ticket.
Senior Congress leaders confirmed that the party’s election panel has shortlisted names of the two brothers for the Warora seat. “There is a huge anti-incumbency factor weighing against him. He has not been able to live up to the people’s expectations after becoming a minister in the Prithviraj Chavan government, and has no command on the local bureaucracy too,” said Vijay, taking a jibe at his cousin.
It is only ironical that Vijay handled Sanjay Deotale’s election campaign for the Lok Sabha polls. He added: “Party workers are fed up of him and want me to contest instead.”
Senior Congress leaders from Chandrapur and the Vidarbha region are believed to have backed Vijay’s candidature. Requesting anonymity, a senior leader said, “Party workers and locals are displeased with Sanjay Deotale’s performance, and are openly voicing anger against him.”
Sanjay Deotale, however, said his defeat in the Lok Sabha polls was on account of the omnipresent Narendra Modi factor. “I have been elected four times to the state Assembly. That itself is a statement on my performance as a legislator,” he said, expressing confidence of retaining his seat, if given a chance, for the fifth time.
Refusing to be drawn into a debate over Vijay’s remarks against him, Deotale said his cousin had held political ambitions for some time now.
Several senior leaders in the Congress, however, feel partymen defeated in the Lok Sabha polls must not be fielded in the Vidhan Sabha elections.
Besides Deotale, another senior Congress minister from Maharashtra, Shivajirao Moghe, would be ruled out if the party adopts this suggestion. Moghe tasted defeat in the elections from the Yavatmal Lok Sabha seat.
Interestingly, the Chandrapur district Congress unit had also thrown the name of Vijay’s wife, Ashawari Deotale, in the ring for the Assembly seat. She is currently a Zilla Parishad member.