Patole likely to be replaced as chief of Maharashtra Congress
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
NEW DELHI: Congress insiders claim that Kerala MLA Ramesh Chennithala, in his report on the Maharashtra unit to party president Mallikarjun Kharge, has recommended the change of present state unit chief Nana Patole. Former chief minister Ashok Chavan is among the top contenders for replacing Mr Patole.
Mr Chennithala was appointed by Mr Kharge in February to assess the situation in the state and submit a report to the party president over the state of affairs in the Maharashtra unit of the Congress.
Mr Patole's "autocratic" working style and "non-responsive" functioning have irked many seniors in the party. There have been complaints about how local leaders were not taken into confidence before organisational decisions were taken for their areas.
Mr Patole's tiff with Congress Legislative Party leader Balasaheb Thorat had led to the latter offering his resignation from the post. Former youth Congress chief Satyajeet Tambe, too, had targeted Mr Patole over his decision to opt to contest the MLC polls as an Independent.
Mr Patole was in the Congress, then went to the BJP and then again returned to the Congress. He was appointed the state unit chief at the insistence of senior leader Rahul Gandhi despite the presence of a battery of leaders in Maharashtra, including veteran former CMs like Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chauhan. Apart from them, Sanjay Nirupam, Milind Deora and two sons of former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh, who are sitting MLAs.
Sensing trouble, the Patole camp is in Delhi, lobbying to save his post. Several leaders from the state have already met K.C. Venugopal and conveyed to him that Mr Patole should remain state unit chief till the Assembly elections are concluded in Maharashtra, that is, in October 2024 after the Lok Sabha elections. However, many in the party are demanding that the change in the state leadership be done immediately and that the new person should be made responsible for both Lok Sabha as well as Assembly elections. In all likelihood, the Congress will go to the polls with the MVA, the grand alliance between the Shiv Sena UBT, NCP and the Congress. Mr Patole was also having trouble with the alliance partners. The party hoped that the new president of the state unit will be better at dealing with the alliance partners. Leaders in the know claimed that a change in guard could be implemented within this month itself.