Former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan’s Exit a Setback, Say Congress Veterans

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By ETV Bharat English Team

Published : Feb 12, 2024, 4:37 PM IST

Collage: Manikrao Thakre, Ashok Chavan and Sanjay Nirupam (Source ANI)

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan quit Congress on Monday. Senior Congress leaders including Manikrao Thakre and Sanjay Nirupam see it as a setback for the grand old party in Maharashtra. Reports ETV Bharat's Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: The exit of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is a big setback to the Congress in Maharashtra and losing senior leaders will demoralise the workers ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, senior party functionaries said Monday.

Before Ashok Chavan, the Maharashtra Congress recently lost two other senior leaders - former Lok Sabha MP Milind Deora and former MLA Baba Siddiqui, who joined Shiv Sena and NCP respectively.

"Ashok Chavan was an important leader in the state (Maharashtra). His leaving the party is certainly not a positive development. It is a big setback to the party. Those who are committed to party ideology will stay and I don't think more leaders will leave the party,” All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and in-charge of Goa Manikrao Thakre told ETV Bharat.

Meanwhile, former MP and senior Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam described Ashok Chavan as an "influential leader". "Ashok Chavan was a big and influential Congress leader in the state (Maharashtra). His leaving the party is certainly a big setback. Losing senior leaders will demoralise the workers ahead of the (2024) Lok Sabha polls," Sanjay Nirupam told ETV Bharat.

According to party insiders, Ashok Chavan was upset over "lack of cohesiveness" in the Maharashtra Congress and had been at loggerheads with Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Nana Patole.

Ashok Chavan was also concerned over the "deadlock" in the seat-sharing talks between the Congress-Shiv Sena UBT-NCP-Sharadchandra Pawar group alliance for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

"There is a deadlock in the alliance seat-sharing talks as the Shiv Sena UBT is calling the shots. Ashok Chavan had been concerned over this and had urged Nana Patole to resolve the issues at the earliest. When there are serious issues between the party leaders and between the allies, the central leadership must act in haste. However, it seems while we are okay with senior leaders exiting the party, the BJP is just waiting for an opportunity to induct them," a senior AICC functionary said on condition of anonymity.

Party insiders said it was known to the central leadership that Ashok Chavan had been upset but no effort was made to resolve the issues. Recently, Ashok Chavan played a key role behind organising the Nagpur rally on December 28, 2023, the foundation day of the Congress and had earlier hosted a mega rally in Nanded when Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra had entered Maharashtra in 2022.

Ashok Chavan was also involved in the seat-sharing talks between the INDIA alliance partners. "See, the high command is taking note of all the developments but there are certain things beyond its control. We can't say what exactly prompted Ashok Chavan to leave the party but he may have been under some kind of pressure. The Centre is known for misusing the central agencies against opposition leaders," said Thakre.

"Today, it is very difficult to play the opposition politics and ask tough questions from the (Narendra) Modi government like Rahul Gandhi is doing. All those who have gone recently had been under some kind of pressure, be it from the central agencies, some allurement or any other influence. We can't stop those who want to go,” Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said while reacting to Ashok Chavan’s exit.

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