Vilas Muttemwar, Vikas Thakre urged party workers to accord a rousing welcome to Congress candidate for LS polls Nana Patole on his arrival at Nagpur Railway station today
The Congress factions within city unit have decided to come together during Lok Sabha elections and support candidature of Congress candidate for Nagpur Lok Sabha seat Nana Patole. Former MP Vilas Muttemwar and City Congress President Vikas Thakre have urged party workers to accord a rousing welcome to Patole at Nagpur Railway station on Friday at 10 am. Thereafter, the procession will reach Tekdi Ganesh Mandir and then Devadia Bhavan, where party will try to present a unified front while facing the general elections. Both Muttemwar and Thakre were also aspiring for Nagpur Lok Sabha seat with others but seems to have adjusted with the political reality. Other group is still sulking due to denial of ticket to them and imposition of an outsider. Since, name of Patole was cleared by Congress President Rahul Gandhi himself, the leaders have decided to bury the hatchet, at least publicly, to avoid any disciplinary action and to keep their own prospects alive for assembly tickets slated few months later.
Many Congress leaders on condition of anonymity pointed out that Patole had no political base in Nagpur city and had no dedicated bunch of followers. Though the high command believes that both the factions would faithfully work for him, those close to leading lights of Congress factions expressed skepticism about it. Congress had a tough ask on cards to unite the faction-ridden local unit and take on BJP stalwart Nitin Gadkari who trounced Muttemwar during last election by a record margin of 2.84 lakh votes. Congress is on decline in city since 2014 when it first lost Lok Sabha followed by assembly elections in which for the first time BJP bagged all the six seats with margin ranging from 40 to 59,000 votes. The winning spree was maintained during Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) elections when the BJP emerged victorious on 110 seats of civic body while Congress was reduced to mere 28 seats. Even these corporators are divided in two factions and had dragged each other into litigation over the Leader of Opposition post.
Amidst such dismal scenario for Congress, Patole, who started his political journey from Congress as Zilla Parishad member of Bhandara, has an uphill task ahead of him to rejuvenate the party machinery, take along all leaders and consolidate traditional Congress votes. According to City Congress President Vikas Thakre, the Congress has solid social base in Nagpur Patole will emerge as victorious. He claimed that party machinery is geared up to take on BJP and Sena. Booth-level organisation is ready and people are underestimating the strength of Congress in city like Nagpur where it won all elections from 1951, barring only two times, he stated. Congress leaders are hopeful that either AICC President Rahul Gandhi or AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will address a mega rally to boost prospects of Congress nominee. Nagpur seat is prestigious for Congress party as it is headquarters of RSS and historic Deekshabhoomi is situated here. MPCC has already formed a special team to fight Nagpur Lok Sabha seat seriously and all major leaders will address rallies and oversee preparations.