With the Congress high command deciding to gauge the opinion of party MLAs and MLCs in Maharashtra for a possible revamp of the state unit, state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat on Monday rushed to Delhi and had a meeting with AICC general secretary in charge of Organisation K C Venugopal.
There is unease in the Thorat camp over the style of functioning of AICC in-charge of the state H K Patil and it is learnt that the state Congress chief has offered to step down if the situation does not improve. Venugopal, however, maintained it was a routine meeting.
Sources said the high command has set in motion the process for a reshuffle in the state unit. As part of the exercise, Patil is to travel to Mumbai Tuesday to meet MLAs and MLCs individually.
It is learnt that Thorat’s office was not involved in organising the meetings. Sources close to Thorat said that bypassing him in this manner diminishes his authority, a point he is learnt to have raised with the party high command.
Thorat currently holds three positions – PCC chief, Congress Legislature Party leader and Revenue minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.
It is learnt that there is pressure on the high command to follow the one person, one post principle in this case. Also, his nephew Satyajeet Tambe is Maharashtra Youth Congress president and his rivals in the party have complained about the concentration of power in one family.
It is also learnt that his rivals have complained to the high command that under Thorat’s leadership, the Congress is not getting its due in the ruling coalition with Shiv Sena and NCP.
Congress’s Maharashtra leaders say Thorat will have to give up at least two posts.
And intense lobbying has begun after the Congress leadership signalled that there will be changes soon. There are many aspirants for the PCC president’s post, among them Assembly Speaker Nana Patole, and state ministers Vijay Waddetiwar and Nitin Raut. Former Lok Sabha MP and AICC in-charge of Gujarat Rajeev Satav’s name is also being talked about.
Thorat’s visit to Delhi also comes at a time when a controversy is raging in Maharashtra over the proposal to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar. Thorat has opposed the proposal, which has been on the agenda of the Sena.
There are also issues regarding “attempts to micromanage” by Patil, said a source.
“The release of a letter by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to Chief Minister Thackeray seeking measures for socially backward classes at a press conference in Delhi by Patil had not gone down well with the NCP and the Sena. Patil also indulged in some plain-speaking at the Congress foundation day event. While he did not name Sena or NCP chief Sharad Pawar who had made some remarks on Rahul Gandhi, he said no one should poke their nose into the affairs of the Congress and that those not part of UPA should not create confusion. At the end of the day, it is Thorat who has to face the alliance leaders,” a senior Congress leader said.
Both Patil and Thorat could not be contacted.
Before Ashok (Bhai) Jagtap’s nomination as Mumbai Congress president last month, Patil had carried out a similar exercise of interacting personally with corporators and party’s block unit presidents.
He is now learnt to have drawn up a detailed 100-day programme for the Mumbai party unit. He has nominated Chandrakant Handore as state in-charge of the Mumbai party affairs.
Handore has been asked to handle coordination between the state and Mumbai party units and give regular updates to Patil.