Sanjay Dutt’s nomination still uncertain, all eyes on Chavan

Days before the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) is expected to announce nominations to four Legislative Council seats that would fall vacant later this month, it appears that former MLC Sanjay Dutt could be overlooked once again, and all eyes are now on whether Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan supports Dutt's candidature. Dutt had resigned in March last year to make way for Chavan's election to the legislature.

Already, the Congress is facing a rising unrest against senior leaders nominating their own aides for the four seats, leaving out deserving party workers. "It does send out a very bad signal to partyworkers if the sacrifice of a legislator who had a full term ahead of him is ignored at the time of nominating candidates for fresh vacancies to the upper house," a senior leader said. Dutt had resigned in March 2011 when the party was faced with a possible embarrassment with no other MLC willing to resign to accommodate the new chief minister.

"The party can be sure that in future, leaders would prefer not to make a sacrifice that could be a dangerous career decision," said the leader.

Alongside reports that the chief minister is inclined to nominate Rohidas Patil from northern Maharashtra, senior Congressmen say he may also bat for Dutt. If he doesn't, Dutt's turn would be postponed indefinitely.

Of the four Congress MLCs retiring in July, at least two are certain to be be given fresh nomination — Manikrao Thakre by virtue of his being MPCC president and Ulhas Pawar who is being backed for a record fourth term by Union Minister and former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. A third seat is to be decided by Industries Minister Narayan Rane whose supporter Rajan Teli is among the Congress retirees from the Upper House.

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