HAVING been reduced to two seats in Maharashtra in the 2014 elections, the Congress campaign is ridden with both protests over tickets and the lack of candidates.
The latest embarrassments were an audio clip featuring state party chief Ashok Chavan expressing his helplessness over seat selections, leading to the change of the Chandrapur party candidate on Sunday. On Saturday, the Congress’s Muslim face and Aurangabad district chief, Abdul Sattar, threatened to quit and contest as an Independent over the party choice from Aurangabad. “Ashok Chavan is helpless…,” Sattar told reporters. CM Devendra Fadnavis immediately urged Sattar to walk over.
Last week, the choice of Navinchandra Bandiwadekar from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency had left red faces in the Congress after it was alleged he had extended support to arrested Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut. Follow more election news here.
In Kolhapur, Congress’s Satej Patil is openly campaigning for the Shiv Sena candidate.
The party has struggled to find candidates in traditional bastions like Pune and two Mumbai seats. In Hingoli, one of the two seats Congress won in 2014, sitting MP Rajiv Satav has refused to contest, citing party work.
Former CM Prithviraj Chavan has reportedly refused to contest from Pune, insisting he would prefer Karad. AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik is said to have declined Ramtek, from where he won in 2009 but lost in 2014.
Ashok Chavan himself has reportedly been fielded against his wishes from Nanded, the other seat the Congress won in 2014. He apparently pushed for his wife. Sources said even Priya Dutt, fielded from Mumbai North-Central, was initially not keen to contest.
Allies like Raju Shetti of the Swabhiman Paksha have also expressed frustration. “The Congress is a house in disorder. Local leaders don’t get along and have no voice,” says Shetti.
The discord between Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan isn’t helping. An aide of Prithivraj Chavan said, “Ashok Chavan does not consult him on any matter, be it candidate selection or strategy for the polls.”
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, however, said, “We are a democratic party. There are differences of opinion, but… there is room for every view to be expressed.”