Maharashtra Cong mulls ‘social engineering’ to appoint Opposition leader

The Maharashtra unit of the Congress has hinted it will go for “social engineering” to appoint the leader of the state legislature and leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, ahead of the Assembly elections to be held later this year. All India Congress Committee general secretary and Maharashtra in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge said the party may appoint members from marginalised or minority communities as leader of the Opposition and state legislature, in a bid to present a united front.

These posts were left vacant after Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil resigned.

After presiding over a meeting of Congress legislators of both houses of the state legislature at Vidhan Bhavan on Monday, Kharge said, “Legislators feel the party should go for social engineering. They’ve decided to stand united for Assembly polls.” The appointment will be announced after the Lok Sabha results are out on May 23, he said.

At the meeting,the party unit unanimously passed a resolution according all the rights to appoint the leader of the state legislature to party chief Rahul Gandhi. State Congress unit’s deputy leader, Vijay Wadettiwar; Mumbai unit MLAs Arif Naseem Khan and Varsha Gaikwad reportedly emerged as the front-runners for the post along with senior leader Balasaheb Thorat. The resolution was moved by Wadettiwar and seconded by Khan, Yashomati Thakur and Sharad Ranpise. Kharge heard more than 50 legislators individually.

Wadettiwar is one of the front-runners for the post of Opposition leader. “He belongs to OBC community and is serving his fifth term in the lower house. He is assumed to be an aggressive leader. He is from Vidarbha…if we win sizeable seats from there, it may prove in his favour. Our legislative council leader [Sharad Ranpise] is a dalit. By appointing an OBC or minority leader, the party attempts to send out a message ahead of Assembly polls,” said a party leader. Party legislators have urged the leadership to appoint an aggressive leader who would be loyal to the party.

First Published:
May 21, 2019 04:32 IST

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