Maharashtra polls: Congress appears to be leaderless


The Congress is feeling the heat of carpet bombing from the incumbent BJP-Shiv Sena government during the ongoing campaign in poll-bound Maharashtra.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his whole team is campaigning in the state. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has released a list of 40 star compaigners, which includes several Chief Ministers. Apart from the BJP, the Shiv Sena has also reinforced its capabilities with new vigour.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is touring the state extensively and the Shiv Sena Supremo Uddhav Thackrey is also campaigning.

While the BJP-Shiv Sena combine is aggressive in its campaigning style, the Congress, on the other hand seems to be rudderless, missing a leader who could unify the party and steer the campaign strategically.

Two of its former Chief Ministers — Prithvi Raj Chavan and Ashok Chavan — are busy in their own constituencies, Karad South and Bhokar, respectively.

Former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s daughter Praneeti is also in the fray, which is keeping Sushil Shinde busy there. One of Congress’ former Chief Minister and stalwart from Konkan region, Narayan Rane has moved to the BJP. The Congress’s state party chief Balasaheb Thorat is also contesting and is unable to move around too much.

A senior leader said that the party needs someone who can manage the campaign and should be a call away to contestants and also be able to provide urgent reinforcements.

The Congress has deputed its Central leaders — Mukul Wasnik and Avinash Pande — both General Secretaries, to work in Maharashtra. Even Himachal in-charge Rajni Patil and Gujarat in-charge Rajeev Satav have also been deputed to work in the state. However, a leader concedes that despite all these efforts the party is missing out on some forceful state leaders who can widely move and coordinate the campaign.

The party has planned to hold a joint rally of Sonia Gandhi and the NCP supremo Sharad Pawar so as to send across the message for a better coordination among their political workers and leaders.

For media management, the Congress has assigned leaders from Delhi only to do the job. Rajiv Tyagi and Jaiveer Shergil have been asked to be in Mumbai till the polls end while Alok Sharma in Aurangabad, Szarita Laphlang in Pune, and Surendra Rajput will be in Nagpur.

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, after missing out on the initial poll action, will now start campaigning in the state from Sunday. He is addressing three rallies – one in Latur and two in Mumbai.-IANS News