The cold war between Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh resurfaced on Tuesday when the former skipped a rally addressed by Manmohan Singh in Deshmukh’s hometown Latur.
State Congress’s executive president Jayant Awale is contesting from the reserved constituency. This was PM’s first poll rally in Maharashtra.
“Though Chavan’s absence did not surprise the Deshmukh camp, it did violate the party protocol,” said a senior state leader requesting anonymity. “Chavan offered the Deshmukh camp yet another issue to take up to the party high command.”
Chavan and Deshmukh have rarely campaigned together in this elections though they were seen sharing the dais with party president Sonia Gandhi at some places.
Chavan told the media that he did not attend the rally because of illness. However, state party chief Manikrao Thakre had another reason to offer: “The Chief Minister had some prior engagements and important meetings to attend.”
A source close to Chavan, requesting anonymity, said he skipped the programme because Deshmukh did not attend Rahul Gandhi’s rally in his hometown Nanded.
Their spat intensified after Chavan played a major role in getting back Narayan Rane to the Congress because Deshmukh had lobbied hard for Chavan as his replacement after 26/11. Besides, Chavan’s decision to deny Latur a status of revenue division headquarter, proved a setback to the ex-CM.