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Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde announces retirement yet again, says daughter Praniti will contest 2024 Lok Sabha poll from Solapur

Veteran Congress leader and former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said he has retired from electoral politics and has proposed that his daughter, MLA Praniti Shinde, contest the crucial Solapur Lok Sabha seat in his lieu in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

This is not the first time that the 82-year-old Mr. Shinde, who was also a former Maharashtra Chief Minister for a brief period in 2004, has announced his retirement from electoral politics. In 2019, Mr. Shinde had said that the then Lok Sabha election would be his last contest.

Speaking in Solapur on Wednesday, Mr. Shinde said: “I have entered my 83rd year. I cannot work as I used to before. From my point of view, Praniti is the most suitable candidate for the Solapur Lok Sabha seat. But ultimately, it is up to the party high command to decide.”

Ms. Praniti is a three-term MLA from the Solapur City Central Assembly constituency.

Mr. Shinde, however, said he would extend all possible help to the party’s candidate for the Solapur contest.

Mr. Shinde, who has held several portfolios in the Maharashtra Cabinet in the past, besides serving as the Governor of the undivided Andhra Pradesh (2004-2006), had thrice been elected as MP from the Solapur Lok Sabha constituency – 1998, 1999 and 2009.

He had been defeated in the 2014 and the 2019 general elections.

In 2019, just before the election, he had told The Hindu that his 2014 defeat had been “accidental” and that it was to avenge that loss he had stepped into the electoral arena again.

“I have been winning in this area [Solapur], be it the Assembly or the Parliamentary elections since 1978,” Mr. Shinde had said at the time.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) candidate, religious leader Dr. Jai Siddheshwar Shivacharya, had beaten Mr. Shinde in the 2019 Lok Sabha contest, the prime reason for his loss was the cannibalising of the Congress leader’s traditional Dalit-Muslim vote bank by the alliance of Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi  and the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).