Balasaheb Thorat resigns as Maharashtra Congress legislative party leader amid infighting

Sources said that Thorat who is known to be a soft-spoken person who shies away from controversy was pained at the way his name was dragged into the Satyajeet Tambe matter.
Maharashtra Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat (Twitter Photo)
Maharashtra Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat (Twitter Photo)

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Congress legislative party leader Balasaheb Thorat resigned from his CLP post this morning.  

In his resignation letter to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Thorat said that he is unable to work in a "vicious atmosphere where his loyalty to the party has been questioned." Thorat expressed his desire to step down as CLP leader and asked his leader to appoint someone else in his place.

However, Congress state President Nana Patole said he has not received any resignation letter from Thorat. "I wish Thoratji 'many happy returns' on his birthday today and wished him a long and healthy life... However, I have not got any such letter which is claimed. At least he should communicate with us, then we can discuss the issues," Patole told IANS.

Sources said that Thorat who is known to be a soft-spoken person who shies away from controversy was pained at the way his name was dragged into the Satyajeet Tambe matter.

The resignation caps off a bitter feud that erupted between Thorat and Patole after the recent results of the Nashik Graduates Constituency MLC biennial polls.

Nashik graduates constituency sitting MLC Dr Sudhir Tambe, who is the brother-in-law of Thorat, had declined to contest despite being the Congress' official candidate and got his son Satyajeet Tambe to fight as an independent instead. Satyajeet Tambe won the poll after defeating Maha Vikas Aghadi nominee Shubhangi Patil, the results of which were announced on February 2.

While the Congress was left red-faced due to the episode, the silence of Thorat, who is recuperating from a shoulder injury, was seen as silent support to the Tambe father-son duo.

“Thorat was not happy with the way the Congress leaders in his party have indulged in mud-slinging and making wild allegations against each other. Thorat did not expect that his loyalty to the party will be questioned over the Satyajeet Tambe issue. Thorat is a loyal Congressman and is close to the Gandhi family. Now, unless the Gandhi family intervenes, he will not withdraw his resignation as CLP,” a person close to Thorat commented.

“Thorat is the maternal uncle of Satyajeet Tambe whose decision to contest as an independent candidate and his father Dr Sudhir Tambe's refusal to contest despite his official candidature announcement has resulted in fingers being pointed at Thorat and his alleged role in the matter," a source observed, adding that "since Tambe went too close to BJP, this also raises a suspicion that Thorat may join the BJP."

A senior Congress leader said that after the party's marathon Bharat Jodo Yatra, the stature of Thorat in the Congress was elevated which apparently did not go too well with other Maharashtra Congress leaders.

"These leaders saw the Satyajeet Tambe matter as an opportunity to corner Thorat by questioning his loyalty to the party. However, we are sure that Thorat will not take any step such as joining the BJP. He has decided to remain as a simple Congress MLA," another source said,

A senior leader close to Nana Patole alleged that the matter started when Patole and other Congress leaders refused to field "another party's candidate" in the Amaravati graduate constituency region for the recently-concluded MLC elections.

He claimed that Balasaheb Thorat and Tambe wanted smooth sailing for them in the Nashik graduate constituency elections. “They had an understanding with the BJP and in return for Amaravati, they wanted an unopposed election in Nashik for Satyajeet Tambe. But Nana Patole and other leaders opposed this idea of throwing away a seat to the BJP in what has been a Congress-dominated area. Thereafter, this entire drama was planned against Patole to show him in a bad light."

The senior leader added, "We want to fight against the BJP. We do not want to adjust with them. Now, the party leadership has to decide what they want -- growth of the Congres or "adjustment politics"."

The MVA 'auto-rickshaw' alliance of Congress-Nationalist Congress Party-Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) had won three seats --- the Nagpur Teachers Constituency, the Aurangabad Teachers Constituency, and the Amravati Graduates Constituency, in the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls. The BJP and independent candidate (and Congress rebel) Satyajeet Tambe won from the Konkan and Nashik graduates constituencies respectively.

“This is our major victory and out of a total of five seats, we won two while the NCP won one and the BJP won only one. We are expanding and people are reposing the faith they have in us so we have to work doubly hard without any compromise,” the senior leader further added, while requesting anonymity.

While Thorat did not take part in the campaign of Satyajit Tambe in the run-up to the polls on January 30, several of the former's kin were present.

The Congress has suspended Sudhir Tambe and Satyajit Tambe from the party for the MLC poll twist.

Nana Patole had, on January 26, disbanded the Ahmednagar district committee of the Congress for "anti-party activities" as some of its members had reportedly campaigned for Satyajit Tambe instead of the candidate to whom the party had officially extended support.

(With inputs from online desk and PTI)

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