Bolstering the Congress in Western Maharashtra, Ranjit Deshmukh, a young cooperative baron from Satara who had quit the party to join the Shiv Sena before the 2019 Assembly polls, returned to the Congress on Wednesday. Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat re-inducted Deshmukh, who once headed the party’s youth wing in Satara, into the party fold.
On the same day, Thorat also inducted Thane BJP’s former district head, Dayanand Chorge, into the party fold. Supporters of both Deshmukh and Chorge were also inducted.
Incidentally, Deshmukh’s return comes days after the party managed to broker peace between former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s camp and former MLA Vilaskaka Undalkar, ending a three-decade-old feud that had hit the party’s support base in the stronghold of Karad. Undalkar’s son Udaysinh has been assured of a key role in the party’s expansion plans in Karad.
Sources confirmed that Chavan’s role had also been instrumental in getting Deshmukh back into the party fold. Deshmukh, who has a network of cooperatives, hails from the drought-stricken Mann-Khatav belt in Satara and enjoys sizeable clout in the region. Speaking on the occasion, Thorat said that leaders from various parties and some of those who had deserted the party in the past were in touch with him, and that many of them will soon join the party.
Commenting on Deshmukh’s return, Chavan said that his comeback will strengthen the party in the region. The former chief minister added that while a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government was in power, the Congress should continue to strengthen its own organisation in the state.
Thorat said Chavan was a leader of national stature, whose experience could come in handy for the party’s expansion.
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