With his rivals in Maharashtra Congress gunning for him after debacles in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday said he was not in the race for the post of CLP leader.
“I have asked the party not to give me any responsibility,” Chavan said as a meeting of newly elected Congress legislators got underway to elect the leader of the Legislature Party.
Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and General Secretary in-charge for Maharashtra Mohan Prakash are present in the meeting as central observers.
“In the last 15 years, I have held many responsibilities in the party and now I have got back my constituency. I want to spend time meeting people and working for my constituency,” Chavan said in an informal interaction with journalists ahead of the meeting.
Chavan has won from Karad South Assembly constituency, which is part of Karad Lok Sabha seat he represented in 1991, 1996 and 1998. Both his father and mother held Karad seat several times.
Asked if he will campaign for Congress in poll-bound Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, Chavanclarified, “I have asked the party not to give me any responsibility in those states as well as here.”
Congress secured 42 of 288 Assembly seats, in worst-ever showing in the state since its creation in 1960.
Chavan’s rivals in the state Congress had yesterday declared they would oppose any move to appoint him as Congress Legislature Party leader after the party’s dismal showing in Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls.
“Congress fared miserably in the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls under Prithviraj Chavan’s leadership. It would be unfair if he is made CLP leader,” Abdul Sattar, an MLA from Marathwada and confidante of former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said.
“There is tremendous resentment among newly elected MLAs and candidates who lost due to how the campaign was run,” he said, adding around 25 to 30 candidates lost because adequate funds were not given to them to run their campaign.
Earlier, senior Congress leader and party’s election campaign committee chief Narayan Rane had made a veiled criticism of the former Chief Minister, saying many candidates had not been provided funds and some party leaders had given up the fight even before the voting.
“It is the responsibility of the Chief Minister as the funds are normally routed to the candidates through the Chief Minister,” Rane had said, adding during the campaign he had come across complaints about resources not reaching candidates.
Several senior leaders and former ministers including Patangrao Kadam, Balasaheb Thorat and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil are said to be contenders for the post.
However, given the long-standing tradition in the party, the MLAs many not elect their leader and authorise Congress President Sonia Gandhi to nominate a person for CLP leader’s post.