Pune: Behind bars for the Commonwealth Games
mess, Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi may be down but does not seem
to be out of Pune civic politics, allegedly calling shots from
his cell in Tihar jail.
A fresh controversy has erupted after Maharashtra
Congress President Manikrao Thakre announced formation of a 21
member `Coordinating Committee` 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 loyalists of the tainted MP 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 NCP, Maharashtra Chief
minister Prithviraj Chavan, according to party sources, held a
meeting of Congress MLAs and MLCs from Pune in Mumbai early
this week, assuring them that the panel set up by the MPCC
chief would be entrusted with only the campaign strategy and
the actual selection of candidates for the civic polls would
be supervised by him and the parliamentary board on merit of
the aspirants without any "tilt" in favour of any group.
Kalmadi who virtually handled Congress party affairs in
Pune single-handedly and ruled the roost for about 20 years
before his fall from grace, 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
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.