Chavan spoke to Sonia, Kharge, two days before his exit | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Chavan spoke to Sonia, Kharge, two days before his exit

Feb 13, 2024 07:44 AM IST

Chavan informed the Congress leadership about his decision two days ago, saying he was under tremendous pressure to quit the Congress. “He met Sonia Gandhi and party president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi and explained the pressure on him that was forcing him to call it quits,” said a Congress insider

MUMBAI: Despite the relentless series of defections beginning with former union minister Milind Deora on January 14, both the central and the state leadership of the Congress appear to have failed in addressing the issues plaguing it, leaving the morale of the rank and file terminally low. They have even failed to stop the exodus, which may well become the prime reason for the grand old party’s ultimate downfall.

Chavan spoke to Sonia, Kharge, two days before his exit
Chavan spoke to Sonia, Kharge, two days before his exit

Chavan informed the Congress leadership about his decision two days ago, saying he was under tremendous pressure to quit the Congress. “He met Sonia Gandhi and party president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi and explained the pressure on him that was forcing him to call it quits,” said a Congress insider.

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A Congress Working Committee (CWC) member too confirmed this, saying they were told that Chavan was being pressured with the enforcement directorate (ED) and other cases. “So, in a way, they gave up efforts to hold him back,” he said. “Else, they would have sent senior leader Ramesh Chennithala to convince Chavan.”

Chennithala, on his part, said Chavan was with them till 3 pm on Sunday. “We had a meeting and he seemed to be with us,” he said. “He also attended a meeting of senior leaders about organising a two-day camp in Lonavala on February 16 and 17. How were we to know that he was going to leave the next day? Anyway, I have called a meeting of senior leaders on Tuesday. We will remain together and there will be no impact.”

Chavan was also among a list of senior leaders who were not happy with the functioning of Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole. Last year, Chennithala, in a report submitted to Kharge, had pointed out the strong discontent against Patole. “All the MLAs had demanded that Ashok Chavan be made Maharashtra president. He is the tallest leader in the state and can revive the party,” the Congress MLA said.

Chennithala was asked to submit a report after a fallout between the state Congress president and staunch Congress loyalist Balasaheb Thorat in February last year before the elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Council. Patole denied candidature to Thorat’s maternal nephew Satyajeet Tambe, who later won the polls with the help of the BJP and other parties.

After resigning from the party, Chavan loyalist and former legislator Amarnath Rajurkar pointed fingers at the infighting within the organisation. “Even yesterday, many MLAs complained that they did not get a place in the 52-member parliamentary committee formed for preparation for the elections,” he said. “Those who could not save their deposit in the elections are being promoted by the state leader,” he added, without naming Patole directly.

Sanjay Nirupam, senior Congress leader and former MP, stated that Chavan’s departure was a big loss for Congress, and the party needed to “introspect”. “Some are calling Ashok Chavan a liability, some are holding the ED responsible, all these are hasty reactions. He was basically very upset with the working style of a leader from Maharashtra. He had informed the top leadership about it from time to time. Had his complaints been taken seriously, this situation would not have come,” (sic) he said in a post on Twitter and added, “The responsibility of taking care of him was ours alone.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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