Ashok Chavan, former Maharashtra chief minister, resigned from the Congress on Monday, in yet another setback to the party’s Maharashtra unit months – before the Lok Sabha elections and state polls. Reports indicated that Ashok Chavan might join the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Ashok Chavan has written to Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Pataole declaring his resignation. Earlier this morning, Ashok Chavan met Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar. Ashok Chavan has remained inaccessible to the media since the meeting. Rahul Narwekar confirmed his meeting with Ashok Chavan.
“Today i.e. on Monday, February 12, 2024, I have tendered my resignation as Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from 85-Bhokar Assembly Constituency to the Assembly Speaker Rahulji Narvekar,” said Ashok Chavan in a post on X (formally Twitter).
When asked about reports claiming that Ashok Chavan might join the BJP, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Several leaders of the Opposition want to join the BJP. Many Congress leaders are in touch with us because they feel suffocated in their party.”
“Aage aage dekhiye hota hain kya (watch what happens next),” Devendra Fadnavis said in a press conference on Monday.
According to party sources, three Congress MLAs–Subhash Dhote, Jitesh Antarpurkar and Amar Rajurkar–are likely to follow Ashok Chavan’s lead.
Who is Ashok Chavan?
Ashok Chavan hails from Nanded district in Marathwada region. His father late Shankarrao Chavan was also the chief minister of Maharashtra. Ashok Chavan stepped down as chief minister in 2010 for his alleged involvement in Adarsh housing scam in Mumbai. He was also state Congress chief between 2014 and 2019.
The former Maharashtra chief minister’s departure assumes significance, given that two senior Congressmen – Milind Deora and Baba Siddiqui – have recently parted ways with the party. Baba Siddiqui joined the Ajit Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), while Milind Deora was inducted into the ranks of Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena.
Baba Siddiqui’s son, Zeeshan is the serving MLA from Bandra East, and is likely to follow his father.
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule claimed, “There is discord in Maharashtra Congress, Ashok Chavan has resigned, and there are internal fights in the Congress. There is no leader, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is abusing the OBC community, that is why no one wants to stay with them, and that is why people are leaving. Yes, if anyone wants to join the BJP then they are welcome.”
Baba Siddique’s exit
Baba Siddique said he had consulted his MLA son Zeeshan Siddique and former Congress MP Priya Dutt before crossing over to the NCP. A prominent Muslim face of the Mumbai Congress, Siddique had also served as a minister when the Congress-NCP coalition was in power in Maharashtra.
The NCP, led by Ajit Pawar, is a constituent of the Shiv Sena-led Mahayuti government, also comprising the BJP.
The Siddique senior last week declared his decision to end his 48-year-old association with the Grand Old Party.
“I joined the Indian National Congress party as a young teenager and it has been a significant journey lasting 48 years. Today I resign from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress Party @INCIndia with immediate effect,” he stated.
During the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, Baba Siddique earned much praise for arranging highly sought-after medicines for needy patients. The senior politician is also known for organising grand ‘Iftar’ parties which are attended by top Bollywood stars, including Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan.