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Cong. office vandalism: FIR registered; Thorat denies discontent within party

Venting anger: Alleged supporters of MLA Sangram Thopate ransacked the Congress Bhavan in Pune on Tuesday.

Venting anger: Alleged supporters of MLA Sangram Thopate ransacked the Congress Bhavan in Pune on Tuesday.  

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Thopate condemns attack, says he has accepted high command’s decision of not giving him Cabinet berth

The police have registered an FIR in the vandalism of the Congress office in Pune by alleged supporters of party MLA Sangram Thopate even as Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president and minister Balasaheb Thorat on Wednesday refuted suggestions of discontent within the party.

On Tuesday evening, an irate group of alleged supporters of the three-time MLA from Bhor Assembly constituency ransacked the Congress Bhavan while directing their ire against the party top brass for not giving Mr. Thopate a cabinet berth despite his family being firm Congress loyalists for decades.

Acting on a complaint filed by Congress leader Sachin Adekar, the Shivajinagar police on Tuesday night registered the FIR against unidentified persons for rioting and vandalism under Sections 143, 144 (pertaining to unlawful assembly), 146, 147, 148 (rioting), and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“I spoke to Mr. Thopate on Tuesday night. The Congress party is one family and he will get his due. He said he had accepted the party high command’s decision… Since we are part of a government which is a three-party coalition, we [the Congress] got less ministerial berths,” said Mr. Thorat, stressing on the need for all party leaders to work in harmony under the circumstances.

On his part, Mr. Thopate condemned the vandalism of the Congress Bhavan and disclaimed any prior knowledge of the incident, clarifying that he was in Mumbai on Tuesday and that he returned to Bhor on Wednesday morning.

“I, too, came to know of this [Congress Bhavan incident] after seeing the news on television channels. I am collecting information as to which part of Pune – urban or rural — did these alleged supporters come from and whether or not they were indeed Congress activists or just a ploy by a mischievous party,” Mr. Thopate said.

The Congress MLA further said he himself had accepted the decision of the party’s senior leadership (of not giving him a cabinet berth) and called upon his partisans to maintain peace and not indulge in any unlawful activity.

While Mr. Thopate may have cast aspersions on whether or not the vandals were his supporters or indeed even Congress workers, Mr. Adekar alleged that between 5:30 p.m. and 5.45 p.m. on Tuesday, several Congress activists from the Bhor-Velhe-Mulshi belt had stormed into the Congress Bhavan premises armed with rods, sticks, and stones.

“The agitators raised slogans in support of Mr. Thopate and against Mr. Thorat. Despite a number of workers who were present in the office, including Pune City Congress general secretary Ramesh Iyer, attempted to reason with the group of Mr. Thopate’s supporters, they were in no mood to listen and went about smashing window panes, damaging doors, destroying office literature, furniture, and the television set. A number of them also indulged in stone-pelting which resulted in injuries to some of our workers,” Mr. Adekar’s complaint said.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 6:20:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/cong-office-vandalism-fir-registered-thorat-denies-discontent-within-party/article30455346.ece

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