The infighting within the Indian National Congress has continued unabated. If the episode of former Maharashtra Youth Congress President Satyajeet Tambe rebelling against the party and filing nomination as independent candidate for MLC polls was not embarrassing enough for the party, his uncle and Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Balasaheb Thorat has also resigned from his post. The move by Thorat is being considered a big blow to the grand old party. Let's understand in detail what exactly transpired in Maharashtra Congress in the last few weeks.
Controversy around Satyajeet Tambe's nomination
After the MLC elections were announced last month, it was expected that Satyajeet Tambe would get party's ticket to contest from the Nashik division graduates' constituency. The state Congress, instead, announced nomination for Satyajeet's father and three times MLC member Sudhir Tambe from Nashik seat.
It was then that the whole fiasco started.
Not only did Sudhir Tambe back out, Satyajeet filed his nomination as an independent candidate. This led to polarisation within Maharashtra Congress, in which one group stood behind Tambe saying he had worked hard for the party and deserved a ticket, while the other group said he should not have gone against the party's decision.
After filing nomination, Tambe reached out to all parties, including the BJP for support. The BJP later announced its support for Tambe, while parties in MVA alliance threw their weight behind another independent candidate to teach Tambe a lesson.
The Congress, meanwhile, suspended Tambe father-son duo for going against the party.
A communication from Maharashtra Congress general secretary Devanand Pawar to Satyajeet Tambe said, "You have rebelled in the Nashik division graduates' constituency polls of the Maharashtra Legislative Council. This is in violation of party discipline. As per the orders of the state president Nana Patole, you have been suspended from the party for six years."
While all of this was happening, the Congress leadership expected that Tambe's uncle and senior leader Balasaheb Thorat would intervene. However, Thorat maintained a sullen silence on the matter.
Satyajeet Tambe wins poll, alleges 'conspiracy' by state party leadership
Tambe family's grip over constituency and Satyajeet's popularity as youth leader led to his victory despite best efforts by the MVA to defeat him. As Tambe won election, he addressed a press conference and said that the family was told to take a decision on who should contest, but was given the wrong form for filing the nomination.
Satyajeet Tambe said he received “incorrect” nomination forms from Congress and a “conspiracy” was hatched to “throw him” out of the party and “defame” his uncle and former state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat.
While Satyajeet did not directly take Patole's name, his remarks were seen as directed at the state Congress chief. He added: “When the wrong form was sent to me, I called Patole. His phone was switched off… I still filed the nomination paper as a Congress candidate but the party did not declare its support to me.”
After Tambe's press conference, the infighting inside Congress intensified as state leadership made counterclaims against Tambe. However, the big blow came ahead of Balasaheb Thorat's birthday in in Sangamner on Sunday.
Thorat joins chorus against Patole
Thorat, during the event on Sunday evening, referred to the Nashik graduates’ Legislative Council seat elections and said: “I am pained by the politics that happened over the seat… I have conveyed my feelings to the party high command.”
“They alleged that I was heading to the BJP. I am a Congressman and will always remain so… We will take appropriate decision about it at the party level," Thorat said.
The function was also attended by Thorat's nephew and winner of Nashik graduates' constituency Satyajeet Tambe, as well as Tambe’s father Sudhir Tambe and the local Congress MLA.
Thorat resigns as CLP leader, up in arms against Patole
After promising to take appropriate decision at party level, Thorat on Tuesday resigned as the state legislature party head. This came after Thorat on Monday shot a letter to Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge over apparent friction with state unit chief Nana Patole. Thorat reportedly complained to the party high command about alleged “humiliation” by Maharashtra unit chief Nana Patole.
Thorat vs Patole in Maharashtra
The episode that began with Satyajeet Tambe's nomination has now turned into a fight between two groups within the Congress, one led by state chief Patole, while another led by Thorat.
The differences between two senior leaders of the party has come to fore so openly for the first time and many predict that Thorat and Tambe may quit the Congress and join the BJP. Thorat, however, has rejected the speculations.
Reports suggest that senior Congress leader and former CM Ashok Chavan has taken it on himself to try to meditate between to Congress groups and convince Thorat to take back his resignation.
At the same time, another section in the state Congress says Thorat feared disciplinary action against him as well after he silently stood by his nephew and the resignation as CLP leader is just to bring the party leadership to negotiation table.
Meanwhile, as the two warring factions and senior leaders level allegations against each other openly, its the Congress party that's losing face in the state before two important bypolls and assembly elections next year.
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