MUMBAI: Infighting at various levels remained at the centre even as Maharashtra Congress took out the 'JanaSanghars Yatra' from its erstwhile bastion Western Maharashtra appealing people to put an end to the 'cancerous growth' of the BJP in the region.
Though the response to the various programs organized as part of the first phase of the JanaSangharsh Yatra that started from Kolhapur on September 1 was encouraging compared to similar attempts by the party in the past, blatant display of nepotism and groupism is unlikely to help the party turn the support from the people into requisite electoral success.
The multiplicity of challenges haunting the Congress was on display on the very first day of the Yatra at Kolhapur. Of the 12 Lok Sabha constituencies from the Western Maharashtra region the Congress couldn't win even a single seat in 2014.
On the contrary the NCP could manage to win two seats from the region. The Congress feels that their old bastion of Kolhapur district should come back to them from the NCP, whom they had handed over the Lok Sabha Constituency in 1999.
The issue had even come up for discussions between the two parties last month. However, NCP is unlikely to part with its winnable seats.
The Western Maharashtra districts of Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Pune have traditionally been the Congress strongholds and most of the influential leaders and Chief Ministers of the party come from this region.
However, on Saturday, when the party had organized a huge rally in Pune, none of its prominent leaders attended a function in the same city to mark beginning of a memorial lecture series dedicated one of its late leaders from Sangli - Patangrao Kadam.
The absence of Congress leaders at the function attended by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis underlined the factionalism. In Sangli, where once Congress controlled all power centers, the party recently lost even the municipal corporation to the BJP.
However, when the Sangharsh Yatra reach Sangli, the huge defeat and ways to overcome it were hardly a part of discussions.
What met the public eye was the extravagant display of wealth and tussle within the local factions to keep all the strings to themselves.
Wherever the Yatra went, the party leaders appealed people to support the local leadership. At places like Jath and Sangli the state leadership even declared the names of probable candidates for ensuing elections. However, this led to intensifying the infighting.
Condition of the party is not too different elsewhere. Leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and former revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat come from the same Ahmednagar district and they have a bitter fight amongst themselves to control the various power centers of the district.
AICC general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge publicly reprimanded them in party meetings and appealed them to end their differences. Same is the case with Vilaskaka Undalkar and former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in Karad.
They too have been advised by the top party leadership to join hands for to strengthen the party. Whether party's Sangharsh against BJP would be fruitful or not will depend solely on how seriously the local leadership follows the message from the top and stand as a united force. (EOM)