Balasaheb Thorat is new Maharashtra Congress chief

Mumbai: Senior Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat is set to become new president of the Maharashtra unit replacing incumbent Ashok Chavan at a time when the party is facing crucial assembly elections, a senior leader revealed on Tuesday. Chavan had submitted his resignation to the party leadership after the Congress recorded its worstever performance in Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha elections, winning just one seat. Chavan himself had lost from his home turf, Nanded. “The party is also likely to appoint three executive presidents along with Thorat, representing other communities. We would like to give a message of inclusiveness," the leader said.

He said a formal announcement on Thorat's appointment is likely to be made soon. A section in the Congress blames Chavan, a former chief minister, over the electoral strategy adopted by him and allotment of tickets. The Congress is facing a tough task to revive itself in the state, once its stronghold, against the political might of the BJP which has succeeded in expanding its footprint at the expense of the Congress.

Chavan's move to step down seems to be in sync with party president Rahul Gandhi's appeal to party leaders to accept responsibility for the Lok Sabha debacle. Thorat, who was appointed as the legislature party leader after resignation of Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil recently, had represented Agriculture and Revenue portfolios when the UPA-led government was in power. Thorat, who was elected as an MLA from Sangamner in Ahmednagar district in 2009, has founded a number of cooperative education bodies in Sangamner. He is also known for his contribution in the milk cooperative movement.

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