Congress favours leaders who do not belong to any faction
The appointment of former MLA Janardhan Chandurkar, who is a Dalit, as the Mumbai Congress president, is an indication that the party leadership favours a leader who does not belong to any particular faction, party sources said.
According to sources, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan suggested Chandurkar's name and played an important role in his appointment.
The appointment of city unit president comes nearly a year after Kripashankar Singh quit in February last year after the Congress was defeated in the Brihan Mumbai Corporation (BMC) elections.
The city unit of the Congress has been deeply faction-ridden, with high profile MPs calling the shots.
Chandurkar, a Dalit was defeated in the 2009 assembly elections and he represented the Kherwadi assembly segment in suburban Mumbai. He does not belong to any faction in the Mumbai unit of the Congress and the party expects him to take along all groups for the 2014 Lok Sabha and assembly elections, sources said.
In 2009, the Congress had won five of the six Lok Sabha seats and 17 out of 36 seats in Mumbai.
Sources said that the party high command is also in the process of restructuring the state unit of the Congress.
According to them, the next Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president could be a tribal or a woman.
"Dalits, tribals and women form the core vote bank of the Congress," sources said.The Other Backward Classes (OBC) vote bank is split between the Congress and other parties.
For 13 years, the MPCC president's post has been held by Ranjit Deshmukh and Prabha Rau, who are both Marathas from Vidarbha. Rau and present state chief Manikrao Thakre are Kunbi Marathas.
According to sources, the party leadership is toying with the idea of appointing a tribal from outside Vidarbha as its next president.
"It could be Surupsingh Naik or Shivajirao Moghe, who are both tribals, or Rajya Sabha MP Rajnitai Patil, if the choice narrows down to a woman candidate," sources said.
If the party decides on a Maratha candidate, it would be senior leader Rohidas Patil."The leadership is in the process of discussing probable candidates to head the state unit," sources said.