The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Sunday unanimously elected Jayant Patil as the new state president with a view to having fresh faces in the party before the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly polls scheduled for next year.
The former finance minister and a strongman from Sangli in western Maharashtra, would prove to be a good face for the party. The party’s chief spokesperson Nawab Malik has been appointed as the vice president.
Hinting at more changes in the party, the NCP entrusted Mr Patil with the party’s responsibility in the state. Mr Patil, who is a non controversial figure, has emerged as a leader in the state legislature. The earlier state president Mr Sunil Tatkare had to step down as his tenure was over and he was also alleged involved in the irrigation scam.
Mr Patil’s name was announced at the NCP working committee meeting held at the residence of party chief Sharad Pawar in Pune as part of the party’s internal polls. Mr Patil, a trusted
lieutenant of Mr Pawar, was elected unanimously and his name was formally announced by Mr Walse Patil, who worked as the election officer at the meeting.
Besides Mr Patil, the names of former Maharashtra assembly speaker Dilip Walse Patil,
leader of opposition in the legislative council, Mr Dhananjay Munde and Mr Shashikant Shinde were doing rounds ahead of the crucial meeting.
Mr Patil had served one of the longest tenure as the finance minister of the state from October 7, 1999 to December 6, 2008, and as home minister from December 8, 2008 to November 9, 2009 in the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government.
He has been representing Islampur constituency in Sangli district of western Maharashtra since 1990.
Once the stronghold of both the Congress and the NCP, western Maharashtra came under the BJP’s sway in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls of 2014.
It will be a challenge for the new state president to revive the party strength in the region.