Updated: January 20, 2021 10:27:43 am
With Congress finishing at the fourth spot among the four major political parties in the Gram Panchayat elections in the state, the demand for a new state party chief is likely to gain momentum. Nana Patole, who is the state Assembly speaker and has emerged as a strong Congress leader from Vidarbha, is considered the frontrunner for the post.
On Tuesday, a day after the Gram Panchayat election results were declared, Chandrapur MP Suresh Dhanorkar openly voiced his opinion about a change in state leadership. “The state Congress needs an aggressive leader at the helm who can take along all party workers, leaders and MLAs,” he said.
Before the polls, there was speculation that incumbent state party president Balasaheb Thorat would be replaced. However, the Congress leadership had apparently decided to take a call depending on the gram panchayat election results, which have further cast a shadow over Thorat’s leadership role.
State Congress spokesperson Gopal Tiwarie said, “No name has been finalised yet. I have also heard that Nana Patole is at the forefront for the state chief’s post…When the party leadership takes a decision in this regard, it will be communicated to everyone.”
Congress leaders said the party had begun the process of picking a successor for Thorat. The party is likely to throw its weight behind a young leader rather than going back to an experienced hand, keeping the future in mind. Thorat himself is keen on getting a younger leader at the helm in the state.
“I think a younger face should get a chance to lead the party in the state. If a younger leader is given a chance, I will stand behind him…,” Thorat had said after meeting party leaders in Delhi earlier this month.
Speculations have been rife for some time now over Thorat being replaced and a full-time president being appointed in the state. Thorat, who also holds the revenue portfolio and is the legislature party chief, finds it hard to devote time to the organisational work, party sources said.
Thorat is not considered a popular mass leader, the way Prithviraj Chavan or Ashok Chavan are.
Along with the name of Nana Patole, the names of Nitin Raut, Amit Deshmukh and Rajiv Satav are also doing the rounds for the Congress state president’s post. Raut is a Congress loyalist and so is the Deshmukh family. Amit is the son of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, among the popular leaders of Congress in the state. Rajiv Satav is close to Rahul Gandhi and the latter is known to favour his close aides.
Congress sources said the party might opt for an OBC face since a Maratha leader, Bhai Jagtap, has been given the charge of Mumbai Congress. “However, there is a risk involved in that… if the Supreme Court verdict goes against Maratha reservation… a Maratha leader at the helm will help to ease the situation,” said a Congress leader.
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