MUMBAI: In another embarrassment for the Congress in Maharashtra in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, former Union minister Pratik Patil Sunday announced that he was "breaking ties" with the party.
Patil, the grandson of Congress strongman and late chief minister Vasantdada Patil, has not announced his future plans.
His decision came days after the Sangli seat, which has been a traditional bastion of the Congress up to 2014, was allocated to the Swabhimani Shetkari Paksha of Raju Shetti as part of the seat-sharing deal between the Congress, the NCP and other constituents of the "United Progressive Mega Alliance".
"In the current environment, I cannot stay with Congress. Some people are trying to end the legacy of late Vasantdada Patil," the former MoS for Coal said.
The jibe was apparently aimed at his longtime political rival and state NCP president Jayant Patil, and Congress MLA Vishwajeet Kadam, both from Sangli.
The Congress lost its grip on Sangli, which falls in western Maharashtra, when Pratik Patil was defeated by Sanjay Kaka Patil of the BJP in the last general elections.
It was the first defeat of the Congress since 1962.
However, the Congress' troubles seem far from being over in the constituency even after Pratik Patil's exit.
His younger brother Vishal Patil announced that he would contest as an Independent candidate if he fails to get the support of the Congress.
"I am going to file the nomination form. If the Congress does not support me then I will contest as an Independent," Vishal Patil announced at a public meeting held in Sangli. When contacted, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said, "Pratik Patil's decision is painful, but we will have to accept it.
The decision of contesting election from Sangli is already taken. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna's candidate is going to contest from there".
In the run-up to elections, senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil's son Sujay had joined the BJP, which allotted him ticket from home turf of Ahmednagar.
In another high-profile defection, NCP stalwart Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil's son and former party MP Ranjitsinh also shifted his allegiance to the BJP.