Process to select new state Congress chief begins, AICC in-charge Patil in Mumbai

HK Patil

Mumbai : There seems to be a division in the Congress’ state unit on the lines of “Old versus Young” that has split the central leadership for a long time. After the current state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat showed a willingness to resign as the party chief, the AICC in-charge of Maharashtra, HK Patil has come on a two-day Maharashtra tour.

The AICC in-charge, Patil held discussions with senior state party leaders over a possible replacement for state Congress chief Thorat, in keeping with the its ‘one person-one post’ formula. Thorat is currently the state Congress president as well the revenue minister in the state’s Maha- Vikas -Aghadi government. He is also the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader.

According to available information held discussions with senior Maharashtra Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday night at Sahaydri guest house here and later with Thorat over revamping of the state party unit. Besides, state PWD Minister Ashok Chavan met Patil on Wednesday morning.

Congress sources said discussions pertained to the present situation of the party and measures to be taken for its revival. “It looks like the ‘one man-one post’ formula will be implemented,” says a senior party functionary.

The front-runners to replace Thorat include AICC general secretary for Gujarat Rajiv Satav, and Maharashtra ministers Amit Deshmukh, Yashomati Thakur, Vijay Wadettiwar and Vishwajeet Kadam. Satav, who is considered close to senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, is currently the Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra. Patil will also meet other senior state party leaders and MLAs during his on-going Mumbai visit.

It was said that while some leaders in the state want a young face for the party, others argue that the current structure should be given a chance to prove itself in an election before any changes are made.

The present state Congress chief Thorat had offered to resign over two months ago. Thorat is also the revenue minister in the Maha-Vikas-Aghadi government, and offered to quit the organisational post as per the ‘one man one post’ principle of the party. He had taken over the post from Ashok Chavan in July 2019 after the Congress’s poor performance in the elections. Under his leadership, the Congress improved its performance and also formed the state government under the banner of the MVA, led by the Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. But sources indicated there were soft murmurs about Thorat’s alleged inability to help Congress MLAs with funds and other works.

Though there are many young faces who are quite keen on taking up the position, there is a line of thought within the party that each chief should be given time to prove his mettle.
It was believed that Patil will take the opinion of all the party leaders on this issue. These opinions will then be communicated to the central leadership for the selection of a new state chief.