Despite Congress’ poor peformance in the recently-concluded civic and Zilla Parishad (ZP) polls, two senior party leaders are in a tussle to install their own supporter as the president of Ahmednagar Zilla Parishad, where it has managed to emerge as the single largest party.
Although the Congress has fared badly in the recently-concluded municipal and Zilla Parishad (ZP) elections in the state, it has managed to emerge as the single largest party in Ahmednagar ZP, with 23 seats in the 73-member house. Sharad Pawar-led NCP is at the number two position with 18 seats.
However, the Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and former Minister Balasaheb Thorat are trying to install their supporter as the president of the ZP in Ahmednagar, which is considered the fiefdom of these two leaders.
As per the decision taken by the Congress and NCP leadership after the elections, Congress and NCP will share power in 18 ZPs in the state. As per the post-poll alliance, while Congress will get the ZP President post, the NCP will get the Vice President post.
Sources close to Vikhe Patil say that Thorat had fielded rebels against the party’s official candidates in two seats in the ZP polls.
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They allege that Thorat had extensively campaigned for these rebels. In one seat, the official candidate of Congress, who is from the Vikhe Patil camp, has won, while in the other seat, the rebel supported by Thorat won by a slender margin.Vikhe Patil supporters claim that 16 out of the 23 winning candidates belong to their camp.
On the other hand, Thorat supporters say that fielding of Vikhe Patil supporters as candidates in the Sangamner taluka was an “invasion” in their area and hence there was a rebellion.
The Thorat camp is also demanding that their candidate be made the ZP president. At a meeting of the newly-elected ZP members belonging to the Congress on February 27, it was decided to leave the decision regarding finalisation of candidate to the State Congress leadership.
A meeting has been convened tomorrow at Tilak Bhavan, the state unit party headquarters in central Mumbai, to resolve the Ahmednagar issue.
Thorat holds sway in Sangamner taluka, while Vikhe Patil’s area of influence is Rahata taluka. The two seats where Thorat put up rebels are situated in Sangamner, but are part of Vikhe Patil’s assembly segment Shirdi.
Ratnakar Mahajan, party’s state unit Vice President and spokesman told PTI that both the leaders will accept the decision of the party leadership regarding the candidate for the ZP president post.
“Along with 23 Congress members, 18 NCP members will also vote for the Congress nominee in the election for ZP president post,” he added.
In the just-concluded ZP polls, Congress finished a poor third with 591 seats out of the total 2,990 across 25 ZPs. BJP bagged 831 seats and even breached the Congress stronghold of Latur.
Ahmednagar district was a stronghold of Congress before it split in 1999, but it is now restricted only to Rahata and Shirdi. BJP has made consisderable inroads in the district. In the 2014 assembly elections, apart from Thorat and Vikhe, Bhausaheb Kamble was the third Congress legislator from the district winning the Shrirampur assembly segment.
Out of the 12 assembly seats, BJP bagged five, Sena one and NCP got three. In the district, the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat is with BJP, while Shirdi is with Shiv Sena. The district is politically significant and considered as the base of the co-operative movement in the State.