Cong to make last-ditch effort to retain Rane | india | Hindustan Times
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Cong to make last-ditch effort to retain Rane

india Updated: Jan 05, 2009 01:41 IST
Dharmendra Jore

A day before he announces his final decision, the Congress will make one last effort to retain suspended rebel leader Narayan Rane in its fold.

Suspended for “anti-party remarks” last month, Rane is expected to announce his next move on Tuesday.

While the influential leader may quit the Congress to join another party or even float his own party, he may also choose to remain in the party he joined after leaving the Shiv Sena three years ago.

Despite a Congress offer of withdrawal of suspension some time ago if he apologised for his remarks, Rane continued to criticise the party, making political pundits say he would choose to leave.

Still, the Congress has not lost all hopes.

Senior leader Kanhaiyyalal Gidwani, entrusted with the task of breaking the ice with the disgruntled former revenue minister, will meet Rane in the morning on Monday.

The two had met before as well, but the talks remained fruitless.

“I will meet him again Monday morning,” Gidwani said.

Congress leaders from Delhi may talk to Rane if he entertains Gidwani’s primary proposal.

Those knowledgeable about inner party workings said the Congress wanted Rane to stay back because it could not afford to lose a strong leader like him just before the general elections.

“There’s no harm in making the last effort to reconcile,” said a Congress general secretary, requesting anonymity on to avoid being affected by any misunderstandings over the sensitive issue. “Nothing is impossible in politics.”

Rane was unreachable for comment but one of his close aides said the Konkan strongman was keeping all options open.

“If nothing substantial materialises for us then we will launch our own party as well,” the aide said, requesting anonymity to keep the Congress guessing.

Ambitious Rane had early in December alleged foul play when the Ashok Chavan was chosen the new chief minister.

He said he did not trust Congress president Sonia Gandhi any longer but later retracted the statement.

However, he continued to accuse senior leaders such as Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, city Congress chief Kripashankar Singh and state chief Manikrao Thakare of hatching a conspiracy to deny him the coveted post when a majority of the legislators were behind him.