With indications that the next general elections may come about sooner than expected, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has been chairing special meetings and taking up various issues concerning each Lok Sabha constituency in the state. Priority is being given to those seats where the Congress is weak or on the sidelines.
A notable feature of the congregations, which usually happen at the CM’s official residence Varsha in Malabar Hill, is that the MPs and MLAs concerned (each Lok Sabha seat consists of six assembly constituencies) are not invited. Those who participate during discussions include MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre, the party in-charge of the concerned district, and the district president.
For instance, yesterday the CM had on his agenda two separate meetings on Palghar and Akola, where Congress has no representation. While an independent candidate won in Palghar in the previous polls, Akola has been BJP’s bastion over the last few elections.
“We have decided to take up discussions on nine Lok Sabha constituencies where the Congress lost during the 2009 elections,” Thakre told this newspaper. Before Palghar and Akola, the CM had taken stock of the party’s performance at Chandrapur and Yavatmal-Washim Lok Sabha constituencies, he said. While Chandrapur has been with BJP for many years, Yavatmal-Washim is currently in the Shiv Sena’s kitty and was previously with the BJP.
Sources say during meetings the CM and the MPCC chief take up party issues, disputes between local leaders and office bearers, and most importantly, development works. The Congress-led state government is trying to speed up improvement activities by increasing funding from state kitty so the party can claim credit while canvassing, said a Congress leader. Besides, the CM is also taking keen interest in four zilla parishads Akola, Washim, Nandurbar and Dhule where the party had lost the last elections. Of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, allies Congress and NCP have 17 and 8 constituencies respectively.