Congress appoints Balasaheb Thorat as Maharashtra party chief

Ashok Chavan will be co-chairman of the 15-member strategy committee and Harshavardhan Patil will be its coordinator.

New Delhi: Stepping up its preparations in poll-bound Maharashtra, the Congress on Saturday appointed former state minister Balasaheb Thorat as the state party chief and formed eight panels including pradesh election committee and campaign committee.

Thorat replaces former chief minister Ashok Chavan as state unit chief.

The party also appointed five working presidents - Nitin Raut, Baswaraj M Patil, Vishwajeet Kadam, Yashomati Chandrakant Thakur and Muzaffer Hussain. Raut heads the party's SC Department.

KC Padavi was appointed as the new Congress Legislature Party Leader. Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who was the CLP leader, had joined the BJP.

Assembly polls in Maharashtra will be held later this year.

The party constituted seven panels appointing Thorat as chairman of pradesh election and strategy committees, former MP Nana Patole as chairman of campaign committee, former Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde of coordination committee and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan of manifesto committee.

The campaign committee, which will shape up the party's campaign, has 61 members including senior state party leaders Ashok Chavan, Shinde, Prithviraj Chavan, Rajiv Satav, Milind Deora and Rajni Patil.

It also has AICC general secretaries Mukul Wasnik and Avinash Pande as members. Other members include Priya Dutt, Sanjay Nirupam, Hussain Dalwai, Urmila Matondkar, Nitin Raut, Charan Singh Sapra and Kumar Ketkar. Baba Siddique will be convenor of the committee.

Patole, who heads the pradesh election committee, was chief of All India Kisan Congress. He had resigned after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi stepped down following the party's debacle in Lok Sabha elections. Patole had unsuccessfully contested from Nagpur against union minister Nitin Gadkari in the Lok Sabha elections.

The 33-member Pradesh Election Committee, which will recommend names of party candidates, also has senior leaders including former home minister Shivraj Patil, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Wasnik, Pandey, Satav, Rajni Patil, Deora, Nirupam, Dalwai, Raut, Manikrao Thakre, Vilas Muttemwar, K C Padavi and Eknath Gaikwad.

The 23-member coordination committee also has several senior leaders including Thorat, Deora, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Shivraj Patil, Thakre, Wasnik, Satav, Rajni Patil, Shivaji Rao Patil Nilangekar and Muttemwar.

All AICC secretaries in-charge of Maharashtra, AICC secretaries hailing from the state, all working presidents of Maharashtra will be permanent invitees to the campaign, coordination and election committees. The chiefs of frontal organisations including Youth Congress and Mahila Congress will be ex-officio members.

Ashok Chavan will be co-chairman of the 15-member strategy committee and Harshavardhan Patil will be its coordinator. Deora, Shinde, Prithviraj Chavan and Thakre are among its members.

Apart from Prithviraj Chavan, the 28-member manifesto committee includes Balachandra Munagekar and Anant Gadgil.

The party has also formed an 18-member media and communication committee which will be headed by Rajendra Darda, 22-member publicity and publication committee headed by Ratnakar Mahajan and an election management committee headed by Sharad Ranpise.

The party releases said that the appointments were made with the approval of Congress president and did not mention the name of Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi has resigned owning responsibility for the party's defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress Working Committee, the party's highest making body, at its meeting in May had rejected his offer to step down.

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