The surprise move of Congress MLC Sudhir Tambe, a close relative of staunch Congressman and former Maharashtra minister Balasaheb Thorat, to drop out of the upcoming Legislative Council polls in the state and field his son instead may have surprised some people, but political rebellion is quite common in the families of both the leaders.
Earlier on Thursday, Sudhir Tambe, official Congress candidate for the biennial elections to the Upper House, announced withdrawal from the race and said his son Satyajit will be in the fray from the constituency currently represented by him.
Satyajit Tambe, the state Youth Congress president, subsequently filed his nomination as an independent.
Elections to graduates’ and teachers’ constituencies of the Council will be held on January 30 and Thursday was the last day for filing nominations.
Sudhir Tambe, brother-in-law of former state Congress president Thorat, has been representing the Nashik Division Graduates’ constituency in the Upper House of the legislature for the last three terms (18 years) and was renominated by the party for a fresh term.
Thorat’s sister is married to Sudhir Tambe and both the families have been loyal to the Congress for decades.
Balasaheb Thorat’s father late Bhausaheb Thorat was a freedom fighter and a staunch Congress leader from Ahmednagar district, once famous for having the maximum number of cooperative sugar factories and a widespread network of cooperative societies and educational institutes.
The Thorats not only built their political career from Sangamner tehsil of Ahmednagar district in western Maharashtra, but set up several educational institutes, colleges, including one for engineering, sugar mills and other cooperative societies under the brand name ‘Amrutwahini’, to maintain their dominance over the region.
However, in the 1985 state Assembly polls, the Congress decided not to field Bhausaheb Thorat from Sangamner because his candidature was opposed by another Congress leader and former minister B J Khatal-Patil. The party nominated Shakuntala Thorat, originally from neighbouring Pune district, but Bhausaheb Thorat fielded his son Vijay alias Balasaheb Thorat as an independent and ensured he won.
He later returned to the Congress and thus began the political career of Balasaheb Thorat, who till today has remained undefeated from the Sangamner Assembly constituency in all the elections he has fought. Thorat has served as a cabinet minister for several years and was also the state Congress president.
He is currently the leader of the party in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, while Sudhir Tambe is his counterpart in the Legislative Council.
Sudhir Tambe’s political career also started in a similar way, when he rebelled in 2007 against the then-Congress candidate Nitin Thakur in bypoll to the Nashik division graduates’ constituency and won. He later came back to the Congress and won two more Council elections from the seat.
Satyajit Tambe, his son, had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Assembly elections from Ahmednagar City. He was a Congress member of the Ahmednagar Zilla Parishad, but has now decided to chart his own political course by trying to enter the Upper House of the legislature.
On Thursday Satyajit Tambe filed his nomination as an independent and asserted he was still associated with the Congress even as he sought support from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is part of the Eknath Shinde-led coalition government in the state.
Incidentally, at a book release function of Satyajit Tambe in December last year, BJP leader and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had openly suggested the saffron party wanted the young Congressman on its side.
Referring to Balasaheb Thorat, Fadnavis had said, “You need to pay attention to Satyajit properly, otherwise we will set our sights on him.” After Thursday’s turn of events, there is no official Congress candidate in the fray in the Nashik Graduates’ constituency, making things easy for the junior Tambe. The BJP has also not fielded its candidate from the seat, but its state unit president Chandrashekhar Bawankule has said the saffron outfit may consider supporting Satyajit Tambe.
Bawankule said, “If Tambe approaches us and seeks our support, we can consider it. The BJP is trying to strengthen its base in all parts of the state. We do not have a strong face in the Nashik division, hence we may extend our support to him.” However, unlike his uncle or father, whether Satyajit Tambe would return to the Congress camp or find himself in the BJP like many other party leaders will be revealed only after the results are out on February 2.