After the humiliating defeat of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections, many MLAs and aspirants in the state are hesitant to contest on the party ticket. State polls are scheduled for October and the election code of conduct is likely to be announced by mid-August.
How many Congress aspirants are there now?
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) spokesperson Sachin Sawant said it will be difficult to give an exact figure as applications are collected at the district level. An MPCC officer-bearer said aspirants can submit forms till August 11, but the response has been very lukewarm. The response to the party's regional rallies is also quite low. "This is a symptom that the party's support base is ebbing," he said.
Do sitting MLAs also lack confidence?
A sitting Congress MLA from the eastern suburb said the morale of party workers is down. "People from my constituency are advising me not to contest this time. It will be a waste of money. I am in a dilemma whether to contest or not. There used to be a mad rush for tickets from the ward level to Delhi earlier. But the situation is no more favourable," he said.
What's the money at stake?
The sitting Congress MLA from the eastern suburb said losing state polls means drilling a big hole in your pocket. "The unofficial state election budget for one constituency is Rs 10-30 crore. Sometimes, it may even go higher. I don't want to squander such money," he said.
Do Congressmen still blame Chavan?
Yes. A ticket aspirant from Dhule said the party still had six months after the Lok Sabha elections to reform itself. "But chief minister Prithviraj Chavan missed the bus. As a state leader, he has no temperament and the knack to handle the election campaign. He cannot provide financial assistance to party candidates. There is huge cash crunch. So, candidates themselves have to bear election expenses," said a senior Congress minister, who also has decided not to pitch himself for the polls.