New Delhi, February 12
Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan has resigned from the Congress in a pre-election jolt to the party. Sources close to Chavan say he will join the BJP.
Chavan is the second top Maharashtra Congress leader to resign from the party after former Union minister Milind Deora, who had joined the Shiv Sena.
Chavan is learnt to have submitted his resignation as an MLA to the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker and may join the BJP in New Delhi.
Speaking to reporters, Ashok Chavan said he has not taken any decision yet on joining the ruling BJP and will decide on his next political move in a couple of days. “I am not going to discuss anything happening in the Congress party on a public forum,” he said.
To a query on if he would join the BJP, Chavan said, “I haven't taken any decision yet on joining the BJP, don't know BJP's working system.” He also said his decision to quit the Congress is a personal one and he does not want to ascribe any reason to it.
Chavan also refuted claims that the white paper tabled in Parliament prompted him to resign from Congress.
The white paper has mentioned the Adarsh Building scam, pertaining to a housing society in Mumbai, due to which Chavan had to step down as the chief minister of Maharashtra in 2010.
Amid the buzz that Chavan will join the BJP, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters, “Aagey aagey dekho hota hai kya (wait and watch what happens).”
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party is becoming “Congress Occupied BJP.”
“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi thumps his chest saying his party would win 400 seats in 2024 (Lok Sabha polls), then why is he breaking other parties. With so many Congress leaders being inducted into the BJP, there will be a day when its national president will be from Congress,” he claimed.
People are seeing what the BJP is doing in the country, Thackeray said addressing a public rally in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar district.
“Had the BJP worked honestly in the last 10 years, it would not have been resorted to inducting leaders from other parties,” he said.
Thackeray said he was surprised by Chavan’s decision. “A few days back he was participating in the seat-sharing talks (of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi). I have heard he will be given a Rajya Sabha seat. If everyone starts seeing their own (interests), then who will look after the (welfare of) farmers of the state,” he added.
He claimed that the farmers are being called and asked over phone whether they will vote for the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“But I have a recording of a farmer questioning what the central government did for the soybean producers of the state,” he said.
“The ones who have done corruption should join the BJP and they will be made MP, MLA. This is Modi guarantee,” Thackeray alleged.
BJP state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule claimed there has been a major “unrest” in the Congress party.
“Senior Congress leaders are in contact with the BJP. They are unhappy with their party leadership. You will see more such instances,” he told reporters in Nagpur referring to the exit of Chavan from the grand old party.
Bawankule also said that as of now, he has not received any proposal regarding Chavan being inducted into the BJP and nominating him to the Rajya Sabha.
“If anyone wishes to accept Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda of development and BJP's ideology, we welcome those people. At the moment, we have enough strength to win three Rajya Sabha seats (out of the six from Maharashtra going to polls later this month),” he said.
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe hit out at Bawankule and said, “We don't have alliance organisations like the ED, CBI and Income tax.” The public will teach the BJP a lesson in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, he claimed.
BJP leader and state Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “It seems Congress leader Ashok Chavan was tired of the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and state party president Nana Patole. The Congress leaders are tired and hence, they are shifting to some other parties.”
Asked if Chavan would join the BJP, Mungantiwar said, “I am curious to know which party he will join.”
Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole in a post on X said, “The Congress party has given a lot to many leaders. The party today is trying to save the democracy and the Constitution of the country. We all are loyal to the Congress and will defeat the dictatorial and fanatic Bharatiya Janata Party.”
Leader of opposition in the assembly Vijay Wadettiwar said Chavan never expressed disappointment over any development in the party.
The ruling side may try to break a political party, but they will pay a heavy political price for it, he said.
“People do not like leaders from the opposition being harassed like this and being forced to join your party,” he added. — with PTI
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