Senior leader H.K. Patil, who is in-charge of the Congress in Maharashtra, flew into Mumbai from Hubbali on Sunday afternoon to assuage the hurt feelings of party veteran Balasaheb Thorat who has submitted his resignation from the leadership of the state legislature party. Patil said all the "misunderstandings" will be resolved amicably which indicated that Thorat was not in a mood to relent. Thorat, a senior Maratha leader from Western Maharashtra who is nursing a shoulder injury, declined to comment on his one-to-one talks with Patil.
"Everything need not be blown out of proportion," he said. He claimed that the Patole issue was not discussed with Patil. Patil is expected to fly to Bengaluru tomorrow afternoon after meeting senior party leaders in a big to diffuse the crisis. But, he will be returning with an empty hand because an obdurate Thorat has not withdrawn his letter of resignation.
Thorat and MPCC president Nana Patole, who is a defector from the BJP, have been having a running battle for the past two years when Patole was handpicked for the state presidentship by Sonia Gandhi overlooking the claims of several loyalists like Thorat. However, matters escalated recently when Patole suspended Thorat's brother in law and nephew Sudhir Tambe and Satyajit Tambe respectively for six years from the primary membership of the party during the election to the legislative council from the Nashik graduates' constituency. The senior Tambe had declined the ticket offered to him by the party and instead fielded his son Satyajit as a rebel much to consternation of Patole. Satyajit won with the support of the BJP. Thorat was upset that his close relatives were suspended from the party by Patole without bothering to consult him and he shot off his letter resigning from the leadership of the CLP.
Patil said there was no question of accepting the Thorat as legislature party chief. At a presser held after the meeting, Patil claimed that Thorat will attend the All India Congress Committee plenary at Raipur in Chhattisgarh on February 24 and will meet party president Mallikarjun Kharge and AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal. Patil said he had conveyed to Kharge and Venugopal about the ''hurt feelings'' of Thorat and the recent developments in the state unit of the party.
''The Congress is a family and such issues crop up. We will resolve them among ourselves,'' Patil said for good measure. He said the fiasco in Nashik was not discussed. Thorat indicated that he may go to Raipur. Meanwhile, the ruling BJP is closely watching the intra-party developments in the Congress. Its state president Chandrakant Bawankule has already stated that his party's doors were open for Thorat. It is learnt that backdoor talks have been initiated by the BJP with Thorat in a bid to woo him. If Thorat defects, then the BJP will gain big time in western Maharashtra, where it is relatively weak.
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