Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra minister Satej ‘Bunty’ Patil said on Thursday his nephew Ruturaj would be the Congress’s candidate for the Kolhapur South Assembly constituency.Mr. Patil, the son of educationist and politician D.Y. Patil, made the announcement at a meeting of his supporters in Kolhapur. “There is no need to worry about leaders leaving the Congress and the NCP. The common people are still with us,” Mr. Patil said, exhorting his followers to support Ruturaj. The Kolhapur South seat is the home turf of the Patil clan.Currently an MLC, Mr. Patil dispelled rumours about his possible candidacy in the Assembly election, saying that he still had three years to go before the end of his term in the Upper House.Interestingly, Sanjay Mandlik, the newly elected Shiv Sena MP of Kolhapur, was also present at the meeting, emphatically voicing his support for Ruturaj.Mr. Patil and Mr. Mandlik are both avowed adversaries of the powerful Mahadik family and especially Dhananjay Mahadik, the former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP from Kolhapur who recently joined the BJP.Mr. Patil has a history of political rivalry with the Mahadik clan, which controls most of the district’s vital nerve centres in the ‘sugar belt’ district of Kolhapur. After winning the Kolhapur South seat twice in the 2004 and 2009 Assembly elections, Mr. Patil was defeated by Mr. Mahadik’s cousin, Amal Mahadik. However, it was sweet revenge for the Congressman after he managed to win the Legislative Council seat in 2015 by defeating Amal’s father, Mahadevrao.Despite the coalition between the Congress and the NCP, differences between Mr. Patil and Mr. Mahadik have proved to be irreconcilable. Mr. Patil refused to campaign for Mr. Mahadik in the recently concluded general election, actively campaigning for Mr. Mandlik and the Sena instead, according to observers. This completely undercut the NCP leader’s chances and resulted in him losing to Mr. Mandlik.“In return, Mr. Mandlik is now endorsing Ruturaj’s candidacy for Kolhapur South. Mr. Patil and Mr. Mandlik are motivated by a common desire to defeat Amal Mahadik [sitting BJP MLA from Kolhapur South] and deal a blow to Dhananjay Mahadik and the Mahadik clan,” a Kolhapur-based analyst said.Meanwhile, in a major blow to the Congress in Kolhapur, former State minister Prakash Awade quit as the party’s district president, allegedly unhappy at Congress’s stand on the abrogation of Article 370.Mr. Awade is the son of former Congress MP Kallapa Awade. He had taken over as district party president in January. With his exit, Mr. Patil’s name is doing the rounds as the possible district Congress chief.