Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

Maharashtra Congress turmoil long time in the making, state leaders point to high command

State Congress leaders say central leadership did not act despite being informed about the problems brewing in the state unit

Balasaheb Thorat (right) has accused Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole of conspiring against him. (File Photos)
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Maharashtra Congress turmoil long time in the making, state leaders point to high command
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The unrest in the Maharashtra Congress going on for the past several months spilled into the open after Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Balasaheb Thorat resigned from the post on Tuesday and accused state Congress chief Nana Patole of conspiring against him. At the heart of the discord between the two leaders is Patole’s style of functioning and the appointment of certain office-bearers by the state Congress president.

Congress insiders said the discontent had been brewing ever since the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) lost power. The Congress’s decision to not field Thorat’s nephew and former state Youth Congress president Satyajeet Tambe in the Legislative Council council polls proved to be the last straw, said sources in the party. Tambe was suspended from the party and ended up winning from the Nashik graduate constituency as a rebel after he was not given the ticket. After the victory, Patole distanced himself from the decision to suspend Tambe and his father Sudhir, saying the high command had taken the decision and would decide their future.

State Congress leaders said the high command had been intimated of the troubles in the state units several times in the last six to seven months but it did not act.

“There are three former chief ministers and dozens of senior ministers and heavyweights who may not be in power but need to be tackled in a systematic manner instead of being ordered. When the party is not in power, the organisation should be dealt with delicately and not in an autocratic manner,” said a senior party leader.

Among other things, Patole’s critics have questioned his decision to bring over BJP leader Chhotu Bhoyar and field him in the December 2021 MLC elections against state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule. The BJP comfortably won the election.

During the Bharat Jodo Yatra’s Maharashtra leg last year, senior party leaders were tasked with doing the groundwork to make it a success but Patole’s detractors feel that only he grabbed the limelight. Sources said Thorat and former CM Ashok Chavan were among the leaders who put their resources into the organisation of the yatra and planned the route and mobilised the crowd.

After the fall of the MVA last year due to a rebellion in the Shiv Sena, political circles in the state were abuzz with speculation about a possible split in the Congress. At the time, Chavan’s absence in the Assembly during the trust vote on the Eknath Shinde government led to talk in party circles about the former CM being unhappy.

First published on: 09-02-2023 at 10:42 IST
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