Updated: August 3, 2021 7:46:32 pm
Even as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hosted 100 Opposition MPs for breakfast on Tuesday, he is likely to also make his first visit to Maharashtra since the MVA government came to power in 2019. The party, however, has not confirmed when he would be touring the state. Gandhi has reportedly shown keen interest in how late Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray worked, handled his party and relations.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who met Gandhi on Monday, said, “We had a healthy exchange of ideas on various issues during our meeting. The Congress leader sounded positive and confident.”
Raut said Gandhi sought to get an insight into Balasaheb’s style of working. “Rahul wanted to know Balasaheb’s nature and his style of working. He wanted to know how the Sena chief went about handling his party, his leaders and relationships with other parties. He was curious about the Shiv Sena and Balasaheb,” he said.
Raut further said Gandhi looked at ease with himself and will also be visiting Maharashtra and meeting leaders of the three-party alliance. “Rahul told me that he would be visiting Maharashtra, but did not specify when,” he added.
Congress spokesperson Gopal Tiwari said, “There have been speculation over Rahul’s visit to Maharashtra. However, the Congress headquarters has not yet confirmed his visit. If the date is finalised, state Congress chief will make an announcement.”
Since the MVA government came into power, neither has Gandhi visited Maharashtra nor has he met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Thackeray, however, said he discussed state matters with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul over the phone.
A Congress leader said it was important for Rahul to visit Maharashtra and take steps to re-energise the party rank and file. “Congress leaders and workers are waiting for Rahul’s visit for long. He toured Maharashtra during Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, but his visits were confined to some pockets only. He and Priyanka did not tour or interact with party workers and leaders. If they do, it will infuse new energy and enthusiasm in the party rank and file,” he said.
Congress leaders said Rahul’s visit would be significant amid reports of souring ties between the three alliance partners over the issue of contesting future elections. While Sena and NCP are in favour of jointly contesting polls, state Congress chief Nana Patole has been insisting that his party will be fighting the polls on its own. On the other hand, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said any such decision regarding this would be made by top leaders of the party. The Sena has also expressed the same view.
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