Vishal Patil, the grandson of former Congress chief minister Vasantdada Patil, was on Saturday nominated as the Swabhimani Paksha candidate from the Sangli constituency. This follows intense politicking over the seat as the Congress leaders of Sangli were opposed to the seat being given to the Paksha.
Located in the heart of the sugar belt of western Maharashtra, Sangli is the home district of three-time chief minister Vasantdada. He is credited to have started the cooperative sugar movement and is known to have taken steps for setting up of technical educational institutes across the state.
Barring the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Sangli has always elected a Congress MP. Vishal’s elder brother Pratik was elected twice from the seat and made a minister of state for coal in the UPA II government of 2009. Vishal is the chairman of the Vasantdada Patil Cooperative Sugar Mill in Sangli, which is run by the Data India sugar company.
Given the legacy of the seat, Congress leaders, including Pratik and Vishal, had vociferously protested against the seat being given to Raju Shetti’s Paksha — the political wing of the farmer’s organisation Swabhimani Shetkari Sangthana.
Paksha had joined the grand alliance of Opposition parties on the condition that two seats are allocated to it. Other than the Hatkanagale seat in Kolhapur district, the Paksha had asked for either the Buldhana or Wardha seat but had settled for Sangli.
As news came in of the Sangli seat being allocated to Paksha, Congress leaders, especially the Patils, had revolted. Pratik had in fact resigned from the primary membership of the Congress but rubbished claims that he was joining the BJP. In the initial days, the Paksha was toying with the idea of fielding Dilip Patil, the chairman of the Sangli District Central Cooperative Bank. Congress leaders were wary of Patil, who is considered to be a close associate of NCP state president Jayant Patil.
Vishal will take on Sanjay Patil of the BJP. He is expected to file his nominations on April 2.