Raj Thackeray, Dhananjay Munde in demand to campaign for Congress

Mumbai: MNS chief Raj Thackeray and NCP leader Dhananjay Munde are among the non-Congress leaders, who are in demand from the grand old party to canvas for its candidates in Maharashtra, sources said. Thackeray, known as a fiery orator, is likely to campaign for Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan and senior leader Sushilkumar Shinde in Nanded and Solapur constituencies respectively.

There is also a possibility of him campaigning for Congress candidates in some seats in Mumbai, they said. These seats go to polls in second and fourth phases of the general polls.

The MNS, which is not contesting the polls, is not a part of the grand alliance being led by the Congress and NCP against the BJP.

According to the source, the Congress had also requested Munde, who is the Leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council, to campaign for its candidates in 10 seats- Nagpur, Gadchiroli, Wardha, Chandrapur and Yavatmal (phase 1); Nanded and Hingoli (phase 2); Jalna and Aurangabad (phase 3) and Dhule (phase 4).

The first phase polling is underway on Thursday. Of these seats, Munde has already campaigned in Yavatmal-Washim seat (Congress leader Manikrao Thakare is contesting from there), Hingoli, Wardha and Nanded, the sources said. Munde will canvas for Shinde in Solapur on Friday, they added. "The problem the Congress is faced with is that it does not have leaders known for their oratory skills.

Thackeray has taken the Prime Minister head-on and is attracting people at his rallies," the sources said. "Munde, too, is an effective orator. It is hoped rallies of the two leaders among others will help send across the message against the BJP effectively and consolidate votes," they added.

Former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who died in 2012, is considered to be the last leader in Maharashtra Congress known for his oratory skills.

The second, third and fourth phase polling will be held on April 18, April 23 and April 29 respectively.

The Congress and NCP are contesting the polls in Maharashtra, which has 48 Parliamentary seats, as part of the grand alliance.

The Congress has fielded candidates on 25 seats, while the NCP is contesting 19 constituencies. The two parties have shared remaining four seats with allies.  

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