Mumbai (Maharashtra): Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra's former Maharashtra Chief Minister and former Congress strongman joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday, a day after quitting Congress.
The 65-year-old Chavan was warmly welcomed into the BJP fold at the party's Mumbai office in the presence of key figures, including Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Regarding the new phase in his political career, Chavan, who spent nearly four decades in Congress, said today signifies the commencement of his fresh political journey.
"Today is a new beginning of my political career. I am hopeful that we will work for the constructive development of Maharashtra," he said. Son of the former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Union Home Minister S B Chavan, his choice to align with the BJP emerges amidst speculation that he might be given the Rajya Sabha nomination. When asked about any communication from senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Chavan chose to evade a direct response.
Addressing concerns raised by Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut regarding the Adarsh scam, Chavan defended himself, stating, "The Bombay High Court's decision favoured me. I view it as a political mishap. Although certain agencies have contested the court's ruling, I have endured enough and consider it a non-issue now."
Meanwhile, several Congress leaders condemned the move, calling it a 'dirty political' game. Party leader Prithviraj Chavan said, "Our senior colleague Ashok Chavan has resigned from the party and also as the MLA. It's a sad decision. This had been talked about for a long time. We didn't think he would make this decision. He was made the state CM on two occasions. What went wrong, who was he upset about--only he will tell about this."
"This is very tragic. All members of the Congress Legislative Party are together. BJP leaders are spreading rumours that some people are in touch with them," Prithviraj Chavan said while addressing the media. "It is really surprising. This hasn't happened in Maharashtra before. It is totally a dirty political game by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)," he added.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh earlier took a swipe at the BJP, stating that the 'washing machine' of the party is very powerful. "It is clear that the special washing machine functioning in our country is very powerful...The exit of some people doesn't mean Congress will break...There is some sadness but this won't affect the party," he said.
Ashok Chavan was the Vice President and General Secretary of the Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress Committee from 1986 to 1995. He served the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for three terms, starting in 1999 and ending in May 2014. He served as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra State from December 8, 2008, to November 9, 2010.
On November 9, 2010, the Congress Party asked him to resign from office over corruption allegations relating to the Adarsh Housing Society scam. In the 2014 general elections, Chavan was elected from the Nanded constituency but lost the seat in 2019 Pratap Patil Chikhalikar of the BJP. He is the third big name to desert the Congress ship in Maharashtra.
First to go was former South Mumbai MP Milind Deora, followed by former MLA Baba Siddique. Chavan, who represents Bhokar, Nanded, as an MLA, was reported to have severe differences with state party chief Nana Patole.