The defeat of Congress’s first candidate in Maharashtra Legislative Council elections — Chandrakant Handore– and victory of second candidate Bhai Jagtap by eight votes reflects more poorly on vote management by senior ministers Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat, who is also PCC chief. Party sources feel defeat of Dalit leader Handore, who was to get first preference votes, was a shocker and, fear it would have implications in the Mumbai civic elections. Handore’s defeat also reflected the mood of MLAs who did not like the way party affairs were being managed. Sources said Handore’s defeat was a snub to Rajya Sabha Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge. Apparently, state leaders were irritated by the way Kharge got around to pushing for neo-Buddhist candidates in every election. Once it had even cost the party post of deputy chairman in the Legislative Council in 2018 as he insisted on the late Sharad Ranpise’s candidature. Many in the party feel the defeat of Handore is also a message of Maharashtra Congress to high command for imposing non-Maharshtrian candidates for Rajya Sabha in the past three consecutive elections — Rajiv Shukla, P Chidambaram and now Imran Pratapgarhi. Post Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde revolt, senior Congress leader Anant Gadgil feels Congress should have never joined the Government. “I had told Ahmed Patel in 2019, let us provide outside support to MVA,” recalls a vindicated Gadgil.