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Week after son, Maharashtra Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil quits party

File photo of Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. Photograph:( IANS )

WION Web Team Mumbai, Maharashtra, India Mar 19, 2019, 02.54 PM (IST)

Senior Congress leader from Maharashtra, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, has resigned from the party. He is expected to join BJP.

Vikhe Patil was Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly. Vikhe Patil's resignation comes a week after his son Sujay walked over to the BJP as he was denied ticket from Ahmednagar constituency.

Sujay wanted to contest from 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Ahmednagar, but as per the arrangement between Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, NCP chief Sharad Pawar refused to vacate that seat. Ahmednagar has been traditionally a stronghold of Vikhe Patils.

Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil served as minister in Ashok Chavan's government and was elected from Shirdi constituency in 2014. He had earlier threatened to boycott campaigning for the NCP in Ahmednagar after Sharad Pawar's refusal to give up the seat.

The Vikhe-Patils, based in Ahmednagar district, are a formidable name in Maharashtra's political history and also considered pioneers of the sugar co-operative movement in the state.

Members of the Vikhe Patil family, whose interests go beyond politics, have been part of almost all major parties in the last 70 years.

The biggest contribution of the family in Maharashtra has been its role in setting up Asia's first cooperative sugar mill in Ahmednagar right after Independence by late Vitthalrao Vikhe Patil under the guidance of then Congress stalwart Dhananjayrao Gadgil.

It changed the rural economy and introduction of sugarcane as a cash crop contributed to uplift of people in villages and towns in several parts of Maharashtra.

The family flourished under the leadership of Balasabhe Vikhe Patil, the son of Vitthalrao Vikhe Patil.

Under Balasabhe Vikhe Patil, the family entered the education sector where it set up schools, medical and engineering colleges and also social organisations, thereby expanding its dominance in western Maharashtra.

Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, who was in the Congress for a long time, won the erstwhile Ahmednagar North Lok Sabha seat seven times.

(With PTI inputs)