Sonia meets Cong leaders from poll-bound Maharashtra

The newly-appointed Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat, along with four working presidents – Yashomati Thakur, Basavraj Patil, Nitin Raut, and Muzaffar Hussain – met Gandhi and discussed the political situation in the state and the large-scale destruction caused by floods in parts of the state. (PTI File Photo)

After taking over the reins of the party again, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has swung into action by summoning a meeting of leaders from Maharashtra to chart the strategy for the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.

The newly-appointed Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat, along with four working presidents – Yashomati Thakur, Basavraj Patil, Nitin Raut, and Muzaffar Hussain – met Gandhi and discussed the political situation in the state and the large-scale destruction caused by floods in parts of the state.

AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal was also present during the meeting on Friday morning at Gandhi's 10, Janpath residence. This was Gandhi's first meeting with leaders from any state since her return as Congress President on August 10.

Gandhi was appointed as the interim President of the Congress on August 10 by the Congress Working Committee. She took over the top party post from Rahul Gandhi, who had quit accepting responsibility for the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.

Maharashtra Congress is in disarray with at least half-a-dozen prominent leaders quitting the party to join the BJP, particularly after the party's virtual wipeout in the Lok Sabha elections. Suresh Dhanorkar, who had quit the Shiv Sena to join the Congress on the poll eve, was the only person to get elected to the Lok Sabha from the state.

Thorat was appointed as the Maharashtra Congress President last month as the party went for a complete overhaul of the state unit ahead of the Assembly elections, likely to be held in October.

Next on Gandhi's agenda would be putting the house in order in Jharkhand and Haryana, where the Congress is witnessing large-scale dissent. Jharkhand Congress chief Ajoy Kumar quit the party post last week exposing the sharp differences within the state unit. Assembly elections are due in Haryana and Jharkhand along with Maharashtra.

In a strongly-worded letter to the then Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Ajoy Kumar stepped has said even the “worst criminals look better than my party colleagues”.

In Haryana, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had declared a virtual war against state unit chief Ashok Tanwar by giving a call for a massive rally on Sunday. Hooda has been at odds with Tanwar and has been seeking the post of Haryana Congress chief either for himself or his son Deepender Hooda.

There are also murmurs about Hooda charting his own course if the central leadership of the Congress failed to meet his demands.

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