Maharashtra Deputy CM Fadnavis welcomes ex-CM Ashok Chavan to BJP

His close confidant Amar Rajurkar, who has tendered his resignation as an MLC, also joined the saffron party

Updated - February 13, 2024 09:50 pm IST

Published - February 13, 2024 12:47 pm IST - Mumbai

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister formally joins BJP in the presence of Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and BJP President Chandrashekar Bawankule at BJP headquarters in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister formally joins BJP in the presence of Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and BJP President Chandrashekar Bawankule at BJP headquarters in Mumbai on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

A day after leaving the Congress, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in Mumbai on Tuesday. 

The 65-year-old was welcomed at the BJP office in south Mumbai, attended by key leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP State president Chandrashekhar Bawankule. 

The second-generation Nanded strongman said that he sees this as the start of a new political journey. “Today is the new beginning of my political career as I joined the BJP. I’m hopeful that we will work for the constructive development of Maharashtra,” he said. His close confidant Amar Rajurkar, who tendered his resignation as an MLC on Monday, also joined the saffron party on Tuesday.  

Mr. Chavan, son of the former Union Defence Minister and two-time Maharashtra Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan, further highlighted his alignment with the inclusive ethos of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” propagated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and affirmed his intent to abide by the party’s directives and contribute positively to the national growth trajectory. 

“Sometimes, I was accused of not opposing PM Modi. But I have always done positive politics. I am grateful to Mr. Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda, Mr. Fadnavis and others,” the former Congressman said. 

Amid speculation of securing a Rajya Sabha berth from the BJP, he evaded direct responses about communication from senior Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. “I had set no terms for joining the BJP. I will do what the party tells me to and I have asked for nothing. No one asked me to leave the Congress. It was my own decision,” he said.  

A senior Congress leader in New Delhi told The Hindu that Mr. Chavan met with party president Mallikarjun Kharge and Ms. Gandhi on Saturday, apprising them of his decision. He, according to the key insiders, is said to have told the Congress brass that he was “facing immense pressure from the Enforcement Directorate to leave”.

The former Chief Minister resigned from the Congress and as an MLA on Monday and said he would announce his next move after 48 hours. However, it is speculated that Mr. Chavan has to join the party in a rush because of the Rajya Sabha nomination filing deadline. 

His exit is seen as a big blow for the Congress ahead of Lok Sabha elections with the party already losing Mumbai heavyweight leaders Milind Deora and Baba Siddique. But, the party continues to maintain that the grassroots cadre remains though leaders have left the party. AICC Maharashtra in-charge Ramesh Chennithala called Mr. Chavan a ‘coward’, who ran away from the battlefield, fearing the ED and the CBI

Mr. Chavan defended himself against Adarsh Housing Society scam allegations due to which he had to step down as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 2010 and said his commitment to BJP’s development goals in the State. 

Minutes after joining the party, the leader made a faux pas by referring to Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar as ‘Mumbai Congress president’, which was soon corrected by Mr. Fadnavis followed by a burst of laughter. 

“I apologise. I joined just now, so it’s a mistake,” Mr. Chavan corrected himself. 

Mr. Fadnavis commended the former Chief Minister’s entry, stating that the decisions about his role will be finalised after discussions with the central leadership. “Many leaders in the country have arrived at an opinion of joining the BJP as the country is progressing under the leadership of the Prime Minister. He (Chavan) told us that he is not keen on any post in the party, I want to contribute to the growth of the country,” the Deputy Chief Minister said, adding that his new party colleague’s stature is of national level. 

Suggesting introspection within the Congress party, Mr. Fadnavis said that the internal environment in the Congress is ‘chaotic’. “I want to charge the Congress that they cannot keep their leaders with them. The internal environment in the Congress is chaotic. They need to do some introspection,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday took a jibe at Mr. Chavan and said instead of going to the BJP, he should have gone and met farmers in Marathwada, who have been affected by the unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm.

“Adarsh scam was forgotten but Mr. Chavan’s move has brought it back into the limelight,” he said during a public rally in Ahmednagar’s Sonai

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