Maharashtra Assembly election 2019: The Maharashtra unit of the Congress has much to deliberate upon while deciding the names of candidates for the upcoming assembly elections in the state. Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat on Wednesday said that the first list of 50 candidates is almost ready and it may be out by Friday, September 20. Thorat told reporters that "good and meritorious" candidates have been picked up after the screening committee met in New Delhi to finalise the names.
There will be numerous leaders who would be waiting anxiously for the party to release its first list of candidates. It would be interesting to see whether leaders like Sanjay Nirupam and Milind Deora, who have been involved in an open and ugly fight over Urmila Matondkar's resignation from the party find a place on the Congress' first list.
The actor-turned-politician, who had joined the party just days before the Lok Sabha elections, walked out of the party last week blaming infighting in the state unit. Matondkar was fielded from Mumbai North but lost in the general elections.
Moments after she announced her decision, Milind Deora launched an all-out attack at Sanjay Nirupam accusing him of working against Matondkar during the election. "After Urmila Matondkar decided to fight Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai North, I supported her campaign wholeheartedly as Mumbai Congress president. I stood by her when she was let down by those who brought her into the party. Fully agree that Mumbai North leaders MUST be held accountable," Deora had tweeted, in an apparent reference to Nirupam. Notably, it was Nirupam who had paved the way for Urmila Matondkar's entry into Congress.
Sanjay Nirupam, who enjoys a significant influence in North Mumbai, had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha poll from the seat, but failed to convert his popularity into electoral victory. News18 reported citing sources that the Congress may decide to bench both Nirupam and Deora in view of their recent public bickering.
In her resignation latter to the party leadership, Matondkar pointed towards planned sabotage from leaders within the party resulting in Lok Sabha election loss.
"The first thought of resignation came to me when after my repeated efforts, no action was taken in pursuance of my letter dated May 16, addressed to then Mumbai Congress President Mr Milind Deora. Thereafter, to my utter dismay, the said letter containing privileged and confidential communication was conveniently leaked to the media which, according to me, was an act of blatant betrayal," Matondar said in the letter embarrassing the party.
The Congress is contesting the polls in alliance with Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Both the parties have agreed to contest on 125 seats each out of 288 in the Maharashtra assembly and leave the rest for smaller alliance partners. It remains to be seen how the Congress tackles the rift within its ranks in Maharashtra to take on the formidable BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.