MUMBAI: The NCP's "expansion plan" in Maharashtra has made the Congress nervous. The Grand Old Party has now decided to replace the incumbent Maharashtra Congress president with someone who is more aggressive and takes on Opposition and alliance partners as well.
According to the highly-placed sources in Congress, party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have expressed their displeasure over the mild stand and limited growth of the party in Maharashtra despite being in power.
“NCP and the Congress share similar vote banks. The NCP is eating our traditional vote bank of Muslims and Dalits by reaching out to them and promoting their community leaders. On the contrary, the Congress has no plan to counter NCP's growth. If this trend continues, the future of the Congress will be very bleak in Maharashtra, and in the next elections it will be thrown out of power as well,” said a senior Congress leader requesting anonymity.
“Sonia Gandhi and other senior Congress leaders discussed this issue with state president Balasaheb Thorat and expressed disappointment over lack of growth in Maharashtra. They told Thorat that he can no longer be any help to the party. Following the meeting, Thorat offered to step down paving the way for someone young and dynamic,” said another top source in the party.
Sonia Gandhi asked Maharashtra Congress observer HK Patil to go to Mumbai and consult the Maharashtra Congress leaders over the restructuring. Patil was in Mumbai to consult with the Congress ministers and MLAs.
“Patil got mixed reactions from the party leaders in Maharashtra on the decision of replacing Thorat. The people close to Thorat defended him while others were ready to accept the decision of the high command. Patil has been told to prepare the report and submit to Congress president for the final decision over replacing the incumbent Maharashtra Congress president,” added the source.
While talking to The New Indian Express earlier, HK Patil confirmed that the party had decided to restructure the Congress in Maharashtra. Many names such as Speaker Nana Patole, minister Amit Deshmukh and Nitin Raut are making rounds for the next Maharashtra Congress president.