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Chavan intervenes to take Naseem Khan, Kripashankar on board

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan intervened to resolve the “differences” between Congress MLAs Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan and Kripashankar Singh and party’s nominee from Mumbai North Central Priya Dutt.

Chavan presided over a joint meeting and reportedly hammered out a “much-needed truce” between Dutt and the two MLAs who are reportedly sulking for being “sidelined” by the sitting MP during her campaign.

City unit Congress president Janardan Chandurkar told that everyone present at the meeting resolved to work for the party and to ensure victory of the party candidate.

Sources close to Naseem Khan, who is also textile minister in the state government, said the issues have been resolved in presence of the chief minister.

Both Singh and Khan have been maintaining distance from Dutt’s campaigning from the North Central, considered as the safest seat for Congress, adding to worries of the party leadership.

Dutt, who is seeking a fresh term, is facing BJP leader (late) Pramod Mahajan’s daughter Poonam and state unit SP chief Abu Asim Azmi’s son Farhan Azmi.

Singh and Khan are legislators from Chandivali and Kalina Assembly seats, respectively, which are among six assembly segments that constitute the North Central constituency.

According to sources, apart from Khan and Singh, Dutt and other MLAs, corporators and office-bearers from the constituency also attended the meeting held at a suburban hotel this morning.

Among those present were legislator Baba Siddique, Chandurkar, Health Minister Suresh Shetty.

According to sources, Khan and Singh did not join Dutt when she filed her nominations papers on April 1.

Both leaders were also conspicuous by their absence as Dutt has hit the campaign trail through padyatras and street corner meetings.

Congress is banking on five lakh-strong North Indian and Muslim vote which is likely to get divided between Poonam and Farhan.

Chavan had even called Farhan’s Abu Asim Azmi asking him to withdraw his son from the race.

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