For a party that opposes the RSS ideology tooth and nail, Maharashtra Congress’ unit’s list of big-ticket office bearers released on 26 August night was heavy on people who switched from the saffron brigade, drawing discordant noises, especially from state president Nana Patole. The list was approved by Indian National Congress (INC) interim president Sonia Gandhi.
No sooner had the list surfaced than Patole rushed to Delhi, fearful that it may trigger a meltdown among the loyal cadre. On 27 August, Patole complained to the central leadership that his recommendations were discarded in favour of those the party has steadfastly opposed.
Patole’s fears have solid ground as on the list of office bearers is Akola’s Abhay Patil, who has been named general secretary of Maharashtra Congress. Patil is a hardcore RSS man and has shared the dais with Mohan Bhagwat on more occasions than one. His name was doing the rounds for a ticket in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but was dropped after a background check that revealed his leanings.
When contacted, Patil told this daily that he distanced himself from RSS after it tilted towards hardliners. Son of a former regional president of Vishawa Hindu Parishad, Patil said: “I grew up being close to the RSS ideology. However, the organisation is rife with casteism.
Elite communities are chosen for leadership, while those from other castes are asked to do the spadework. When I realised that RSS’s divisive ideology was not good for the country, I chose a secular party for the larger interests of society.” Another man with RSS credentials on the list is Ajit Apate, who, too, has been appointed general secretary.
Apte is close to Pune mayor and BJP corporator Mukta Tilak. The list is also rich in nepotism, with relatives and friends of ministers bagging plum posts. Take Jojo Thomas for instance. His sole qualification for elevation as general secretary is said to be his proximity to AICC general secretary KC Venugopal. many minister’s PAs and kin also made it to the list.