Congress’s Maharashtra unit may have a new chief soon

There is speculation that there may be a leadership change in the Congress’s state unit. Heavy lobbying for the post of state Congress chief has begun in Delhi.

A close aide of incumbent state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said Thorat had offered to quit as state president. He met Congress general secretary KC Venugopal in Delhi on Monday in this regard.

Last month, Congress in-charge of Maharashtra, HK Patil had said that the process of changing the state unit chief would begin after the appointment of a president for the Congress’s Mumbai unit. This assumes significance as the state Congress has been less active than other political parties since the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government came to power in the state.

Days after Ashok Jagtap succeeded veteran Congress leader Eknath Gaikwad as Mumbai Congress president, aspirants for the position of state Congress chief have begun lobbying in Delhi.

The central leadership of the party is expected to pick a non-Maratha face to head the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee in the wake of the changes in the state. Member of Rajya Sabha and the party’s Gujarat in-charge Rajiv Satav; Maharashtra Assembly speaker Nana Patole; women and child welfare minister Yashomati Thakur; and relief and rehabilitation minister Vijay Wadettiwar are all frontrunners for the post.

Satav is believed to be a close confidant of Congress’s former president Rahul Gandhi, though a section of state leaders is opposing his appointment. Satav had opted out of Lok Sabha elections in 2019 though he was a sitting member of Parliament (MP).

Patole is keen to give up the post of Assembly speaker for the top job in the state Congress. In the past, he had a stint in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and had quit as a sitting MP to return to Congress.

According to a Congress leader in Delhi, the actual process of selecting a state chief is yet to begin, and it may take a few more months for an actual announcement. Patil is reportedly in favour of a change in leadership with immediate effect.

At present, Thorat is the state Congress president, state revenue minister and Congress legislative party leader. Thorat’s detractors in the party have been demanding a change of guard in the state by pointing out that holding a key responsibility in the party while being a minister is against the Congress’s norms.

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