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Maharashtra elections: Jyotiraditya Scindia named chairman of Congress screening committee

Sources said that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has expressed her displeasure over the slow pace of preparations.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Updated: August 23, 2019 10:43:36 am
Maharashtra assembly elections, Jyotiraditya Scindia congres, devendra fadnavis, maharashtra elections, maharashtra news Jyotiraditya Scindia. (Express archives)

WITH THE Congress campaign for the Maharashtra polls yet to pick up, the party high command on Thursday constituted a six-member screening committee for the state, signalling an intent of finalising the party’s contestants at the earliest. Former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will head the committee.

Sources said that Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi has expressed her displeasure over the slow pace of election preparedness. Following her intervention, the party’s poll managers held an urgent meeting in New Delhi, where the campaign strategy and ongoing negotiations with the allies were reviewed on Thursday.

The other members of the committee are Rajasthan Revenue Minister Harish Chaudhary, Tamil Nadu MP Manickam Tagore, AICC (Maharashtra) in charge Mallikarjun Kharge, state party president Balasaheb Thorat and state legislative party leader K C Padavi.

With Assembly polls due in October, the model code of conduct is expected to kick in mid-September. “There isn’t much time left. The party leadership wants the state unit to finalise seat-sharing talks with the allies and the party’s own candidates at the earliest,” a senior leader said.

Last week also saw Sonia firefighting dissidence. At a time when the state party unit is rattled by key desertions, the Congress president reportedly reached out to a couple of disgruntled leaders, said a senior party leader.

Having failed to project a single face ahead of the polls, the Congress on Thursday also decided to launch region-wise poll campaigns. “It will also be difficult for one leader to travel across constituencies. There isn’t much time,” a source said.

With Congress poll managers opining that there is an urgent need to counter Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ ongoing rath yatra, the party plans to organise issue-based gatherings aimed at countering the CM’s claims.

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