The Congress on Monday revoked the suspension of rebel leader Narayan Rane.
The move is expected to help the party’s prospects ahead of the general elections, as Rane holds considerable clout in coastal Konkan, Mumbai and some other pockets in the state.
In December, the party acted against the former Revenue minister after he accused senior leaders of hatching a conspiracy to deny him the CM’s post, which fell vacant following Vilasrao Deshmukh’s removal after 26/11.
He claimed a majority of Congress legislators had supported his candidature. When Ashok Chavan, the other frontrunner, replaced Deshmukh, Rane said that he did not trust party president Sonia Gandhi, who, he claimed, had promised him the CM’s post when he left the Shiv Sena four years earlier. Rane then threatened to split the Congress, saying he would form his own party or join another outfit.
On Monday, Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan officially announced in New Delhi that the party has pardoned Rane and taken him back into the fold. A mellowed Rane told reporters he regretted what he had said.
“In a letter to the high command, I regretted the comments I made in a fit of anger. I will accept any responsibility given by Soniaji,” he said.
Ironically, it was Chavan — who Rane had said was no match for him in the race for the CM’s post — who helped turn the tide in his favour.
With his predecessor Deshmukh waiting for a chance to get back at him, Chavan saw a potential ally in Rane, say observers.
On Monday, Chavan said Rane’s return would help the Congress in the elections, adding that Sonia would decide on Rane’s induction into the state Cabinet.