MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Congress Sunday replaced its Lok Sabha candidate from Chandrapur, Vinayak Bangade, with Shiv Sena MLA Suresh Dhanorkar who recently defected to the party.
Dhanorkar will be pitted against the BJP's Hansraj Ahir, sitting MP and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs.
Bangade's candidature had come under a cloud and caused severe embarrassment to the Congress after a audio clip of Maharashtra state unit chief Ashok Chavan raising apprehensions about it went viral on social media platforms.
A miffed and despondent Chavan was heard telling a party worker in the audio clip that his suggestions were being ignored in the Congress and he was planning to resign as state unit chief.
The worker can be heard telling Chavan that Bangade was a weak candidate. Chavan acknowledged the voice in the clip was his but added it was a private conversation.
Incidentally, despite Dhanorkar stating a week earlier that he was willing to take on Ahir in Chandrapur, the Congress leadership decided to give the party ticket to Bangade, a move that caused resentment among the party rank and file.
In another development, the Congress replaced Hingoli MP Rajiv Satav with former Sena MP Subhash Wankhede.
Satav, the Congress' Gujarat in charge, had told the party leadership that organisational duties in the crucial neighbouring state, a BJP stronghold and home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, would leave him with little time and preparation to fight Lok Sabha polls.
Wankhede, as Sena candidate, had lost to Satav with a slender margin of 1,629 votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Among the other candidates announced by the Congress were former IAS official Kishor Uttamrao Gajbhiye from Ramtek (SC) seat against sitting Sena MP Krupal Tumane, and Hidayat Patel from Akola.
Patel will take on sitting BJP MP Sanjay Dhotre.