Rane to meet Sonia, to discuss election, leadership issues

Senior Congress leader and Maharashtra Minister Narayan Rane, who had accused ally NCP of not co-operating during the Lok Sabha polls in the state, where the two parties were routed, is expected to meet AICC chief Sonia Gandhi in a day or two.

Mumbai: Senior Congress leader and Maharashtra Minister Narayan Rane, who had accused ally NCP of not co-operating during the Lok Sabha polls in the state, where the two parties were routed, is expected to meet AICC chief Sonia Gandhi in a day or two.

Rane, whose son Nilesh also lost the election, is likely to discuss the upcoming Assembly polls in Maharashtra and the issue of possible changes in state Congress leadership after the poor show at the hustings, party sources said here.

Nilesh lost to Shiv Sena`s Vinayak Raut from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency in coastal Konkan, a region considered the strongholds of the Ranes.
"With the Assembly elections round the corner, he is expected to talk about the need for change in leadership in the state Congress in the wake of party`s poor showing in Lok Sabha polls," sources said.

Congress and NCP, allies since 1999, won just two and four seats respectively in Maharashtra, which sends 48 MPs, the second largest contingent, to Lok Sabha.

There has been growing clamour in the state Congress over change in leadership after the poll debacle with even some seniors expressing disappointment over the style of functioning of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the way election campaign was handled.

Another senior Congress Minister also demanded changes within the party as well as in the Chavan ministry ahead of Assembly polls likely to be held in October.
"Necessary changes need to be made at various levels in the party to make a comeback in the Assembly elections. There is a major communication gap between the party cadres and those at the helm of affairs," the Minister said on condition of anonymity.

During an MPCC meeting last week, called to take stock of the massive rout, Rane had accused NCP of non-cooperation and hatching conspiracy to defeat Congress candidates.

At a separate meeting called to discuss the poll results, NCP had blamed Congress for the former`s defeat in the state.

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