Other States

Partymen seek Chavan’s ouster

With the Modi juggernaut crushing the Congress in Maharashtra, alarmed party men are pushing hard for a change of guard in the State. Already two Cabinet Ministers have sent in their resignations in an attempt to build pressure for the ouster of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. The resignation of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, after the abysmal showing by his Janata Dal(United), is serving to tighten the screws on Mr. Chavan.

The Congress has won just two of the 48 Lok Sabha seats — a historic low — in Maharashtra, once considered its bastion. Party MLAs and functionaries fear they will lose the Assembly polls in October as well unless there is a complete overhaul at the top including replacement of PCC chief Manikrao Thakre and AICC general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash.

Publicly, Industries Minister Narayan Rane said he was quitting since he could not ensure the victory of his son Nilesh Rane from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg. Employment Guarantee Scheme Minister Nitin Raut took moral responsibility for the defeat of the party in Nagpur, his home base.

However, others were more frank. “The high command will have to change the Chief Minister for us to have a fighting chance in the Assembly polls,” said a senior Minister. “The Congress began its campaign too late and Mr. Chavan did not consult with party MLAs and other leaders. It’s clear the Congress has lost touch with ground reality,” he added.

‘An outsider’

Many MLAs see Mr. Chavan as an outsider to State politics, inexperienced in realpolitik. “He has barely contested elections. How will he lead the State in an election?” asked a functionary.

Mr. Chavan, who took over the reins of the State in the shadow of the Adarsh Housing Society scam, has also been accused of keeping key decisions pending for too long. His slow pace of file clearance even earned a public rebuke from the ally, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who said the government had been struck by a “paralytic stroke.”

Another reason, a senior Congress functionary said, is that Mr. Manikrao Thakre “lost interest in the polls” as his son was denied ticket. “We had no election campaign committee until the very end.”

When contacted, Mr. Thakre admitted the party should have begun its campaign much earlier. “We made mistakes and will have assuage people’s anger. Several schemes could not be implemented and we will have to work much harder,” he told The Hindu. Asked about the demands for a change of guard, he said, “Resignations do not solve anything. We need to work together.”

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 7:53:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/partymen-seek-chavans-ouster/article6021282.ece

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