Maharashtra Speaker Nana Patole leads race to replace Balasahab Thorat

Express News Service
MUMBAI: Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Nana Patole has emerged as the frontrunner in the race for Congress’ state presidentship. Patole, along with Vijay Wadettiwar and Nitin Raut, is touted to be young blood the high command is considering to infuse purpose in the state unit, which is increasingly losing ground in Maharashtra. 

The race began after Sonia Gandhi decided to address the party’s waning fortunes, which coincides with an uptick in Nationalist Congress Party’s standing (NCP), under the incumbent Balasahab Thorat. The Congress seeks stay in the reckoning for the upcoming municipal corporation elections by installing a younger leadership. Sonia Gandhi had deputed Maharashtra H K Patil to consult the elected representatives and prominent leaders, and submit a report.

While a majority of elected representatives back Thorat, Patole’s proximity to Rahul Gandhi might see him through, highly-placed sources party said. Patole’s aggressive style was noticed when he campaigned for Rahul in Wayanad in the last Lok Sabha election, and offered a spirited resistance to Nitin Gadkari during the 2019 hustings.

“Patole is the first choice. High command, particularly Rahul Gandhi and general secretary KC Venugopal, are in favour of Patole, who is also an OBC,” sources added. Vijay Wadettiwar, also an OBC leader, is a minister. Wadettiwar is known for aggressive style. If the high command insists on a Dalit face, sources said, Energy Minister Nitin Raut could emerge as a dark horse in the race.