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Rebel Congress leader defeats UBT candidate in Sangli: Was Shiv Sena UBT betrayed by its MVA alliance partners NCP and Congress?

The victory of rebel Congress candidate Vishal Patil from Sangli, a traditional Congress bastion, against Shiv Sena UBT candidate has fuelled suspicions of internal dissensions and sabotage within the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance.

As independent candidate Vishal Patil emerged victorious from the Sangli seat in Maharashtra, speculations are rife about the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, tricking Shiv Sena (UBT) supremo Uddhav Thackeray over fighting from the said constituency. Vishal (Dada) Patil rebelled against the Congress party in April after I.N.D.I. Alliance allotted the Sangli seat to Shiv Sena (UBT). Consequently, Vishal Patil decided to contest the Sangli seat as an independent candidate.

Vishal Patil defeated BJP’s Sanjay Patil by a massive margin of 100053 votes and Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Chandrahar Subhash Patil by 510806 votes. Notably, Vishal Patil is the grandson of Congress stalwart and former Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil. Patil was set to contest from Sangli, however, after internal discussions between Congress, NCP, and Shiv Sena (UBT), the seat was awarded to Shiv Sena (UBT).

Source: ECI website

However, Vishal Patil’s landslide victory has raised questions about whether the NCP and Congress had tricked Shiv Sena UBT by granting it to fight from Sangli, a Congress stronghold, and allegedly betrayed their coalition partner by goading Patil into contesting as an independent candidate and not rallying their cadres to consolidate the voters for Shiv Sena UBT candidate.

As exit polls predicted an easy win for Vishal Patil even Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders expressed their anger over their alliance partners. A day before counting, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut attacked the Congress party and NCP without taking names saying that his party would not sit quiet over what happened in the Sangli seat during elections. Reports say that Raut was talking about infighting among the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies over the Sangli seat and how Congress was reluctant to give up its traditional stronghold. “We know what happened in Sangli. We are not in politics to play marbles,” he said.

As reported earlier,  everything is not hunky-dory between the three alliance members in Maharashtra, who will be vying for assembly seats later this year when the state goes to polls. After Shiv Sena (UBT) announced its candidate from Sangli in March this year, former Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam urged his party’s high command to break the alliance with Shiv Sena (UBT) saying that the party has taken an “extreme stand”.

Even so, Congress abandoning its bastion for its alliance partner, only to find their leader go rogue and fight and win from the seat in a one-sided contest has raised suspicions about the true intent of the party vis-a-vis Shiv Sena UBT.

Sangli has long been a Congress stronghold which it held for 52 years, from 1962 to 2014. It was the bastion of Vasantdada Patil, Maharashtra’s three-time Chief Minister and one of the state’s tallest politicians. From 1980 until 2014, Vasantdada’s family members were elected to the seat.

Did Uddhav Thackeray fail to sense why Congress easily let go of its stronghold for Shiv Sena (UBT) and then one of its rebel leaders handed down a humiliating defeat to his party? Sanjay Raut’s outrage after exit polls suggests that the party deciphered the game its alliance partners NCP and Congress allegedly played with them, however, it was too late.

Interestingly, Vishal Patil’s statement after winning the Sangli seat further solidifies the speculation as he said his fight was never against Congress rather it was to “save the party”. This also confirms that Congress leaders secretly helped Patil in his victory.

“The public took this election into their own hands. I am the original Congressman and my fight was not against the Congress but to save the party in Sangli district,” Vishal Patil said.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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