A cold war between senior Congressmen, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Industries Minister Narayan Rane has become a talking point in political circles even as the Congress prepares for the Assembly polls.
The duo that ganged up to beat former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh reaffirmed their commitment to each other even after Rane revolted after being denied the chief minister’s post.
Chavan, however, got Rane in his Cabinet so that Rane would help him counter Deshmukh.
Things have altered in eight months of Chavan being in the hot seat.
Rane patched up with Union Heavy Industries Minister Deshmukh, who is unhappy with Chavan, whom he recommended as his successor in December.
Refusing to toe Deshmukh’s line, Rane took him on directly over certain policy matters over their respective hometowns.
Chavan and Rane were unavailable for comment.
Congress leaders authorised to speak to the media refused to comment.
A senior Congress leader told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity that Deshmukh did not want Chavan to return as chief minister.
“Deshmukh has privately said to many that pushing for Chavan [as CM] was a big mistake he made. He’s using Rane to devalue Chavan.”
The Rane-Chavan fallout has been more apparent in the last one month after Rane took potshots at the chief minister-headed Housing Department for not preventing growth of slums in Mumbai when the Cabinet approved extension of cut-off date for slum protection to January 1, 2000.
Rane has been upset after struggling to make the CM approve more money for a special package approved for his own region, the Konkan.
The cold war assumed significant proportions recently when Rane took credit for the Sindhudurg airport.
On Tuesday, Chavan did not deem it fit to attend the Rane-organised signing of memoranda of understanding for an investment of over
Rs 10,000 crore in mega industry projects.