Congress party in Maharashtra received a major setback after a veteran leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan resigned on Monday from the party’s primary membership and also as the party MLA. ‘’Today on Monday, February 12, 2024, I have tendered my resignation as Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from 85-Bhokar Assembly Constituency to the Assembly Speaker Rahulji Narvekar,” said Chavan in a post on X. Chavan is the third leader after former union minister of state Milind Deora and former minister of state Baba Siddique quit the party to join CM Eknath Shinde led Shiv Sena and DCM Ajit Pawar led Nationalist Congress Party respectively.
‘’I will clarify my political stand in the next two days. As of now, I have not decided to join the BJP. I have no complaints about the Congress party or its leaders. However, I am considering exploring other options, which is why I have resigned from the party,” Chavan said after resigning from Congress. Chavan met Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar in Mumbai on Monday and submitted his resignation
Although Chavan, who is the son of senior Congress leader, former union minister and the state chief minister Shankarrao Chavan, has not given any reason for his decision, in his first reaction, Chavan, who had attended the state party’s core committee meeting in the presence of Maharashtra in charge Ramesh Chennithala on Sunday to discuss party’s Lok Sabha strategy, said he will reveal his future strategy in next two days.
However, sources within the Congress party claimed that Chavan is set to join the BJP to get himself cleaned from the latter’s washing machine. The obvious reference was with regard to the CBI case against Chavan in the much debated Adarsh scam, as its swords still hang on his shoulder. Timing of Chavan’s resignation as the legislator and from the party is also crucial as the last date for the filing of nomination for 6 seats of the Rajya Sabha election ends on February 15 and BJP may field him as its fourth nominee to checkmate Congress party which will have to struggle to keep its flock together in the upcoming Rajya Sabha election the voting for which is slated for February 27 in the wake of unopposed election. Another buzz is that the BJP may field Chavan from the Nanded Lok Sabha seat while leaving the Bhoyar assembly seat represented by him to one of his daughters.
Chavan’s decision led to speculation in state politics that another 9 to 10 MLAs from the Congress party will also soon take a call to part ways.
Minutes before Chavan’s resignations from the party and also as the legislator, the Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had told the reporters that several leaders are feeling “suffocated” in the grand old party. He also dropped hints at more defections from Congress and other opposition parties. ‘’Several tall leaders of other parties want to join the BJP. Especially, several Congress leaders are in touch with us because of the behaviour of the senior leaders. They are feeling suffocated in their party. Who all are in our contact will be revealed soon. Aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya (wait and watch what happens next),” he said.
Chavan was elected to the Lok Sabha MP in 1987 and he served as the MP from Nanded till 1989 and later he was re-elected to the lower house in May 2014. He served the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for three terms starting in 1999 till May 2014.
He was the Maharashtra CM from 2008 to 2010. However, on November 9, 2010, the Congress party asked him to resign from the chief ministerial position after corruption allegations against him relating to the Adarsh Housing Society scam.
Ashok Chavan also served as the president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) from 2015 to 2019 but later resigned from the post in 2019 after Lok Sabha elections in which Congress was routed as it could win a lone Chandrapur seat.
He served as the Public Works Minister in the Uddhav Thackeray led Maha Vikas Aghadi government and in 2023 he was made the member of the Congress party’s highest decision making body the Congress Working Committee.
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said, ‘’When friends and colleagues leave a political party that has given them much — perhaps much more they deserved — it is always a matter of anguish. But to those who are vulnerable, THAT Washing Machine will always prove more attractive than ideological commitment or personal loyalties.’’ He referred to the BJP as the ‘washing machine’, meaning that for those with corruption charges, the party in power at the Centre would seem attractive.
However, Chavan has refuted the Adarsh scam link to his move to resign from the Congress party and as the legislator. ‘’The white paper of the PM on Adarsh and my resignation have no connection,”he noted.
State party chief Nana Patole, in his comment, said, ‘’ Congress party has given a lot to many leaders. Today, when the Congress party is fighting to save the constitution and democracy, it is unfortunate that leaders who have got everything are leaving the Congress party and ideology. Who is going where, for what? This public is watching with open eyes. We all the loyal workers of the Congress party and will fight with full strength against the bigoted, dictatorial Bharatiya Janata Party to save the Congress thought and democracy.’’
Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray MP Sanjay Raut commented that he cannot believe Chavan has left the Congress. “He was around until yesterday, discussing political issues. And today he has quit the party. Like Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar, will Chavan also lay claim over the party symbol now? Anything is possible in this country,” he said.
NCP Sharatchandra Pawar MLA Rohit Pawar said, “At that time when there is a real need to fight for an ideology, senior leaders are abandoning the very political ideology all their lives and joining hands with the BJP. This is really unfortunate.” He further added ‘’Since this attempt to break parties will continue, the real battle for identity and ideology will have to be fought by the common people and the people are ready for it.”
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