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HomeEditorialAshok Chavan leaving Congress can be big dent to the party

Ashok Chavan leaving Congress can be big dent to the party

Chavan has a grip in Maharashtra and under his leadership, Congress managed to win a reasonable number of seats in the state. With his exit, Congress will have a lot of challenges in leadership.

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After a lot of speculation, finally Ashok Chavan joined the BJP, leaving Congress in the muddle. Chavan’s exit is a big loss for the Congress. Chavan was one of the prominent leaders of Congress. Chavan’s were very close Gandhis, his father and the former chief minister, Shankarrao Bhavrao Chavan, served as the chief minister of Maharashtra twice, from 1975 until 1977 and from March 13, 1986, until June 26, 1988. He was the finance minister of India from 1988 to 1989 in the Rajiv Gandhi ministry. He also served as the home minister of India twice, from December 31, 1984, to March 12, 1986, in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet, and from June 21, 1991, to May 16, 1996, in the P. V. Narasimha Rao cabinet. Ashok Chavan has a strong political legacy, one that he did not waste. He was one of the Congress party’s most prominent faces in Marathwada, especially after senior politician and former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh’s demise in 2012. Chavan is credited with retaining a strong grip over his family assembly seat, Bhokar, and influencing the Congress party’s electoral outcomes in both his home district of Nanded as well as the larger Marathwada region, which elects 46 of the 288 state legislative assembly members.

Chavan has a grip in Maharashtra and under his leadership, Congress managed to win a reasonable number of seats in the state. With his exit, Congress will have a lot of challenges in leadership. The remaining big leaders in Congress, like Prithviraj Chavan, state party president Nana Patole, and former minister Balasaheb Thorat, are doing their best but they don’t have Chavan’s status. There are several next-generation leaders but they do not have any base or identity beyond their constituencies.

Ashok Chavan is also a Maratha face in the state. In the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, he was heading the state subcommittee on the Maratha reservation. His identity also gives him a solid stand in the state and the upcoming polls, in which the issue of the Maratha reservation will play a crucial role. Moreover, many Congress leaders who are very close to Chavan may follow in his footsteps by ditching Congress. Chavan has served as a minister in three successive Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led state governments since 1999, holding portfolios including industries, urban development, tourism, and transport. He was picked as chief minister of Maharashtra in 2008 after Deshmukh was forced to step down after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai that year. Within a few months of taking over, CM Chavan effectively led the Congress in the 2009 general election, and in the assembly polls later that year. In both elections, Congress emerged as the largest party in Maharashtra, bagging 17 Lok Sabha seats and 82 legislators, nearly 20 seats more than its ally, the NCP.

While Chavan won a second tenure as Maharashtra CM after these elections, he had to step down in 2010 after his name cropped up in the Adarsh housing scam. Many within the Congress feel that Chavan’s ouster from the CM’s post without a formal indictment from the investigative agencies proved to be detrimental for the party.

Surprisingly, all the so-called corrupt leaders who were on the radar of BP have now joined hands with them. Prithviraj Chavan’s tenure was marked by Congress-NCP infighting and political scams like irrigation. While Prithviraj had a clean image, he did not have a hold over district-level politics or insight into electoral management. Besides the Modi wave, this lack of strong leadership in the state post Deshmukh’s demise in 2012, coupled with the shelving of Chavan, cost them in the 2014 polls and they haven’t recovered since then. Congress in the state is hapless on many fronts, internal politics is another curse to the party. On the other hand, the BJP is playing smart by picking suitable leaders for their camp, ignoring how corrupt they were.

Chavan understands state politics, he also has a good grip on electoral rallying and strategy, which is greatly lacking in the remaining state Congress leaders. He still enjoys the support of at least seven to eight MLAs, so he was an obvious choice for the BJP to plunder. In Madhya Pradesh, one of the tallest leaders of Congress, Kamalnath, will be joining the BJP. In a nutshell, Congress needs to make lots of efforts to retain its leaders.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Tamanhttps://authorvaidehi.com
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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