Rattled by Ashok Chavan's exit, Maha Congress in damage control mode
Mumbai, Feb 12 (IANS) Shaken by the sudden departure of senior leader and former CM Ashok Chavan, the Congress' Maharashtra Congress on Monday went into a damage control mode to ensure that any further possible "leaks" could be plugged.
State party chief Nana Patole rushed to Chhattisgarh to meet Rahul Gandhi, currently there on the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, and then is slated to visit New Delhi to discuss the situation with Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and other leaders.
In Mumbai, senior functionaries like ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan, Congress Legislature Party Leader Balasaheb Thorat and state party Working President M. Arif Naseem Khan were closeted for hours, ruminating the implications of Ashok Chavan’s exit, hours before the process for the biennial Rajya Sabha elections begin.
Later, Prithviraj Chavan said that the state legislature party meeting will be convened on Wednesday-Thursday to discuss the issue and other aspects pertaining to the crucial RS polls.
Khan said that senior party leaders have started reaching out to all the Congress legislators and leaders – especially those the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena claim are knocking at their doors.
Both Chavan and Khan contended that there are no indications of any more MLAs or leaders planning to switch sides, despite the claims from the ruling side, even as there is speculation that the BJP may spring some surprises in the RS polls.
As the largest party of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance, the Congress has 45 MLAs in the Assembly, and Chavan reportedly commands the loyalty of more than a dozen legislators.
The other two MVA allies – Shiv Sena (UBT) and Nationalist Congress Party (SP) – are highly truncated after they suffered vertical splits in June 2022 and July 2023, respectively.
Other leaders have expressed "deep concerns" over the developments plaguing the party after the SS-UBT and NCP-SP were similarly targeted and broken, and urged the top leadership in the state and Centre to take immediate remedial measures.
The MVA's leaders including ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray, Ambadas Danve, Sanjay Raut, Priyanka Chaturvedi (all SS-UBT), Supriya Sule, Dr. Jitendra Awhad, Rohit R. Pawar, Clyde Crasto (all NCP-SP), Prakash Ambedkar and Siddharth Mokle (VBA), and Congress leaders like Vijay Wadettiwar, Atul Londhe, besides others reacted strongly over Ashok Chavan bid farewell to the party.
Meanwhile, despite the brave faces displayed by the Congress state bigwigs, the ruling BJP leaders, including state President Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis hinted that “many more leaders and legislators” are on the way to their party in the coming days.