Maharashtra Congress leader to contest as Independent, Uddhav Thackeray reacts

April 18,2024

Maharashtra Congress leader Vishal Patil, who is the grandson of the late Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil, filed his nomination for the Lok Sabha polls as an  Independent candidate from the contentious seat of Sangli, a Congress stronghold which has been allotted to the Shiv Sena (UBT) under the Opposition INDIA bloc's seat-sharing deal in the state. Vishal Patil had been eyeing a Congress ticket from Sangli.

Under the seat-sharing pact, former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena (UBT) faction will fight 21 seats, Congress will contest 17 seats, while the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party will battle it out in 10.

Addressing a public meeting after filing his nomination, he said, "I have been working for Congress for 25 years, since 1998. In 2002, I asked Congress for a ticket as a zila parishad member. But people said at the time that it would look like nepotism, and so I stopped. When my father passed away in 2005, I felt that I should contest the elections. But instead of me, another member of our family got the ticket.

"I kept working and whenever I was asked to stop, I stopped. In 2019, the party abandoned the ticket. Told me that you contested on the election symbol of another party. I accepted that also. I have a one-sided love for the party. But I did not stop working," he said at the meeting which was also attended by former minister Ajit Ghorpade and other senior Congress leaders from Sangli.

The Shiv Sena (UBT) has fielded wrestler-turned-politician Chandrahar Patil from Sangli, which will vote in the third phase on May 7 along with 10 other Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

Recently, Vishal Patil and Congress MLA Vishwajeet Kadam from Palus-Kadegaon in Sangli district met top leaders in New Delhi and requested them to get the Sangli seat in the state's sugar belt for the "grand old party".

In the wake of Vishal Patil's decision, Shiv Sena (UBT) supremo Uddhav Thackeray, without naming the Congress leader, said if there was a rebellion within any of Maha Vikas Aghadi's (MVA) allies, it was the concerned party's responsibility to prevent it.

"The MVA parties held a press conference and announced the seat sharing agreement. Now if there is any rebellion, then it's the alliance partner's responsibility to check it," the PTI news agency quoted the former Chief Minister as saying at a press conference on Tuesday in Mumbai.

The Sangli Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra was historically dominated by Congress, holding sway from 1962 to 2014, a span of 52 years.

It had been the stronghold of former Maharashtra Chief Minister and late Congress leader Vasantdada Patil. From 1980 to 2014, people from Vasantdada's family have been elected from the seat.

The constituency comprises six Assembly seats, with BJP represented in Miraj, Sangli, and Jath, Shiv Sena in Khanpur, Congress in Falus Kadegaon, and NCP in Tasgaon-Kavathe Mahakal. 

In the 2019 elections, BJPs Sanjaykaka Patil emerged victorious with 5,08,995 votes, while Vishal Patil received 3,44,643 votes and the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi's Gopichand Padalkar received 3,00,234 votes. 

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Modi wave significantly influenced the electoral landscape, resulting in BJPs Sanjay Patil clinching victory with 6,11,563 votes, while Congresss Pratik Patil secured 3,72,271 votes.