Maharashtra ex-CM Ashok Chavan quits Congress : The Tribune India

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Maharashtra ex-CM Ashok Chavan quits Congress

3rd jolt in a month after Deora, Siddiqui exit

Maharashtra ex-CM Ashok Chavan quits Congress

Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, February 12

The Congress on Monday suffered a third pre-poll setback in a month in Maharashtra with former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan resigning from the party’s primary membership and as MLA.

On January 14, Milind Deora, MoS in the erstwhile UPA government, had quit the party to join the Shiv Sena. Five days ago, former minister Baba Siddiqui resigned from the party and joined Ajit Pawar-led NCP. Chavan, 65, a strongman from central Marathwada region and two-time former CM, was representing Bhokar seat in the Assembly.

After he submitted a one-line resignation to state unit chief Nana Patole, the party denounced the move as attempts to erase past taints.

‘Betrayer’ barb

These betrayers don’t realise their exit opens up new opportunities to those whose growth they have stunted. — Jairam Ramesh, AICC General Secretary

AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh, without naming Chavan, said: “When colleagues leave a 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.”

The reference was to Chavan who had to resign as Maharashtra CM in 2010 over involvement in the Adarsh Housing scam, where some politicians were accused of pocketing flats meant for war widows.

Chavan had first become CM in 2008, replacing Vilasrao Deshmukh after the Mumbai terror attacks. He stayed in the office after Congress’ 2009 Maharashtra win, only to resign in 2010.

Interestingly, the White Paper tabled by the Centre in the last session of the 17th Lok Sabha, mentions Adarsh among key UPA-term scandals.

Though Chavan, son of late Maharashtra CM Shankarrao Chavan, is known for his resources and clout in the state, the Congress made light of the exit.

Party insiders spoke of Chavan being at odds with Patole, a former BJP leader who rose to become the state Congress chief. Chavan and Patole disagreed on many Lok Sabha candidates. Chavan was also anxious over delayed seat-sharing talks in the Maha Vikas Aghadi.

“I won’t discuss anything about the Congress on a public platform,” Chavan said today amid indications he would join the BJP, which is yet to name candidates for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections from Maharashtra though the party named 14 candidates from other states on Sunday.

Chavan said he would decide the next course of action in two days, but Deputy CM Devendra Fadvanis hinted at mass defections from the Congress. “Just wait and watch,” he quipped, claiming many Congress MLAs were in BJP’s touch.

In Mumbai, Congress veteran Prithviraj Chavan said it was “unfortunate someone like Ashok Chavan, who was twice CM, should resign”.

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