With just a few weeks left for the Lok Sabha polls, problems for the Maharashtra Congress are far from solved. After various leaders jumping ship to join the BJP, former union minister Pratik Patil also announced that he was breaking ties with the party. Pratik Patil is the grandson of late Congress stalwart and ex-Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vasantdada Patil.
Former MoS of Coal on being asked for basis behind him leaving the party said, “In the current environment, I cannot stay with Congress. Some people are trying to end the legacy of late Vasantdada Patil.” Patil’s comments appeared to be aimed at state NCP president Jayant Patil, and Congress MLA Vishwajeet Kadam, both from Sangli. In a public meeting in Sangli, he also added, “The Congress no longer has any need of the house of Vasantdada Patil. Hence, I am quitting politics and will continue my social work through the Vasantdada Sugar Cooperative… I have no more ties with the Congress party and will tender my resignation.”
Pratik also indicated that his brother would be contesting from Sangli as an independent candidate. He said, “It is well if the Congress considers Vishal for the candidacy of the Sangli Lok Sabha seat, else he will fight as an Independent.”
Pratik’s move comes after Congress under its alliance agreement in Maharashtra, gave away the seat to Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna in Maharashtra. Which ironically didn’t desire to contest from Sangli and were rooting for Buldhana or the Wardha constituency. Raju Shetti’s group Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna under the banner of All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) was part of the farmer protest in the national capital previous year which was under controversy over paid protesters and staged photo shoots.
Sangli has been a Congress stronghold for more than 25 years. After the death of Vasantdada Patil, the important Sangli seat was taken over by his son Prakashbapu Patil, who won the seat in 1989 and remained an MP from Sangli till his death in 2005. Pratik Patil then took over and held ground from Sangli till 2014, ultimately ceding the Sangli Constituency to BJP’s Sanjaykaka Patil. Party workers also protested against Congress’ decision to cede the seat to Raju Shetti’s party and locked down the district party office.
Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of senior Congress leader and the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil also dumped the party and joined the BJP in presence of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. Plagued with high profile defections, perpetual neglect of senior leaders and their legacy by the party high command has in the past also hurt Congress in form of major defections however the grand old party still looks far from evolving into a party, where senior leaders, other than the Gandhi family are respected.
Jumping of ships and refusal to contest in elections by many tall leaders in Maharashtra is indicating towards declining support for the opposition and increasing positive sentiment for NDA. These developments have had a demoralizing effect on party cadre of both Congress and NCP, consequently which may lead to inefficient election management by party members further worsening the prospects of UPA in Maharashtra or a total collapse.