The Opposition’s persistent demand for chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s resignation suggests that there is more than meets the eye.
Sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the party was taking a strong stand against Chavan to compensate for its failure in the parliament.
A section in the BJP is of the opinion that senior leader and Opposition leader in the Lok Bhavan, Sushma Swaraj, had let Prime Minister Manmohan Singh off the hook easily after he admitted to the error of judgement in appointing PJ Thomas as the chief vigilance commissioner. Singh had said that Chavan, who then headed the union ministry of personnel, had cleared Thomas’s name.
On Tuesday, both houses of the state legislature were adjourned after the BJP created a ruckus and demanded Chavan’s resignation.
A senior BJP official requesting anonymity told the Hindustan Times that the party’s national president, Nitin Gadkari, and deputy leader in the Lok Bhavan, Gopinath Munde, wanted to ensure that the issue was raked up in the Maharashtra legislature, especially since they were from the state.
“Gadkari instructed us to stretch Chavan to the extreme. We will not allow the legislature to function for two more days,” said a senior BJP member of legislative assembly. “It would be a mistake to let the chief minister go free, especially when his own party has admitted to his fault.”
The BJP managed to get the support of its ally, the Shiv Sena, and other Opposition parties. Eknath Khadse, Opposition leader in the assembly, said the BJP-Sena would continue to stall the proceedings till the CM spoke up. “We demanded his resignation because he did not make a statement.”
When the BJP-Sena launched a frontal attack on the CM, senior Congress ministers and legislators kept mum. Two MLAs, Baba Siddique and Amin Patel, defended Chavan.
State Congress spokesperson Sanjay Dutt said: “The Opposition has no better and concrete issue to discuss in the budget session.”