Kalmadi calls shots from Tihar jail

A fresh controversy has erupted after Maharashtra Congress president Manikrao Thakre announced formation of a 21-member “coordinating committee”.

It was believed to work out electoral strategy for the forthcoming civic polls here, with the anti-Kalmadi faction within the party alleging that the panel was dominated by the tainted MP’s loyalists who brought disrepute to the city which he represented in Parliament.

Sensing the unrest within the party which is facing a tough task to take on the ruling Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, according to party sources, held a meeting of Congress MLAs and MLCs from Pune in Mumbai early this week. It assured them that the panel set up by the MPCC chief would be entrusted with only the campaign strategy.

Moreover,the actual selection of candidates for the civic poll would be supervised by him and the parliamentary board on merit of the aspirants without any “tilt” in favour of any group.

Kalmadi virtually handled the Congress party affairs in Pune single-handedly and ruled the roost for about 20 years before his fall from grace. He was still having a say in the selection of candidates for the civic poll, slated for February next year, in an effort to perpetuate his domination even in his absence from the scene, his detractors have complained to the state party leadership, sources said.

“Six months back, AICC secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash and Manikrao Thakre had told us that in the absence of Kalmadi, party affairs and strategy in Pune will be decided by a collective leadership. But what we are witnessing now is the clear domination of Kalmadi loyalists led by city Congress president Abhay Chhajed,” said Mohan Joshi, MLC from Pune who hastened to add that the party activists would nevertheless do their utmost to win the crucial civic polls burying their differences.

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