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Sulking Maha Cong MLA's supporters attack party office

Source: PTI
December 31, 2019 20:00 IST

IMAGE: Congress president Sonia Gandhi with party leaders who were appointed as ministers during the cabinet expansion of Maharashtra alliance government, in New Delhi, on Tuesday. Photograph: PTI Photo

A day after expansion of Maharashtra cabinet, voices of resentment resonated in the camps of the ruling Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress criticising the choice of new faces by the leadership of parties.

On Tuesday evening, supporters of Bhor Congress MLA Sangram Thopte attacked the party office in Pune to protest against his non-induction into the state ministry.

While a section of Congress leaders is upset over non-induction of the party loyalists into the new council of ministers, leaders of the Sena have expressed disapproval over party seniors and former ministers not finding place.

 

On Monday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inducted a total of 36 ministers in his one-month-old coalition government comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.

Among the 36, 14 ministers (10 Cabinet and four MoS) belonged to the NCP, 12 to the Sena (eight Cabinet and four MoS), and 10 to Congress (eight Cabinet and two MoS).

Hours after the cabinet expansion on Monday night, NCP MLA from Beed district Prakash Solanke had announced that he will resign on Tuesday, saying he was 'unworthy to do politics'.

However, on Tuesday, NCP leadership succeeded in making him change his mind.

Reports of some Sena leaders being unhappy after not being inducted into the new cabinet are also doing rounds.

Thackeray has dropped several ministers, including seniors like Ramdas Kadam, Diwakar Raote and Ravindra Waikar who were part of the previous BJP-led government, in the new government.

Despite Sena leaders' appeal to their workers to maintain discipline, a Solapur district functionary of the party, Shaila Godse, resigned over non-induction of former
minister from the region, Tanaji Sawant.

Meanwhile, Solapur district Youth Congress president Nitin Nagne on Tuesday wrote a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi in his blood over non-induction of three-time MLA Praniti Shinde, daughter of Congress veteran Sushilkumar Shinde, into the new council of ministers.

A Congress corporator resigned from the Solapur Municipal Corporation as well as a party member in support of Praniti Shinde.

Shinde said, "I accept the decision of the party leadership. Since this is a three-party government, everybody cannot be accommodated, I will request party workers to
exercise restraint."

Venting his anger, a senior Congress leader from Mumbai questioned the integrity of MLAs Aslam Sheikh and Vishwajit Kadam who were inducted into the new Cabinet.

While Sheikh took oath as Cabinet minister, Kadam as Minister of State (MOS).

"Both Sheikh and Kadam were reportedly keen to join the BJP ahead of the Assembly polls held in October this year. They had even met with the then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Sheikh was even assured a ticket by the BJP, but it didn't materialise which forced Sheikh to stay back in the Congress," the party leader told PTI.

Induction of Kadam, who is one of the five working presidents of the state Congress, has also ruffled feathers of some leaders who believe that the MLA from western Maharashtra was chosen over party loyalist Sangram Thopte, a three time MLA from Pune district.

Kadam had first won the bypoll to Palus Kadegaon seat in Sangli district after the death of his father and former Congress minister Patangrao Kadam.

He was re-elected from the seat in the October 2019 assembly elections.

"Why was Sangram Thopte being sidelined when the fact is that he is senior to Kadam?" the leader asked.

He said the Thoptes have been traditional loyalists of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

"Sonia Gandhi 's first rally in Maharashtra's Nandurbar after she became the party chief was organised by Sangram's father Anantrao Thopte," the leader recalled.

When contacted, Sangram Thopte refused to comment. Similarly, the Congress picked Satej Patil, an MLC from Kolhapur district, despite the party having four MLAs in the region.

Former minister and senior Congress leader Naseem Khan admitted of resentment.

"It is true that there is unrest in the party rank and file over choice of ministers from the Congress quota (in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government). There is a feeling that loyalists have been sidelined. I hope the party's central leadership will take note of the issue," he said.

Earlier in the day, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said the party had to accommodate allies who supported the Thackeray-led party after the state assembly poll results were announced on October 24.

"We had to give a chance to new faces as well," he said.

In the 288-member House, the Sena has 56 MLAs, NCP 54 and Congress 44.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has 105 MLAs.

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