Senior Congress leader Narayan Rane on Tuesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) first chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis lacks "acumen" and the administrative skills required to run government.
"Fadnavis is a good person (but) he lacks the administrative skills and acumen to run a government. He cannot face and tackle new challenges," he told reporters while addressing a press conference in Mumbai.
Rane said the new CM and his ministerial team is a "weak Cabinet" which is not capable of fulfilling the aspirations of the people.
Rane, who had headed revenue and industry portfolios in separate stints in the erstwhile democratic front government, also criticised Fadnavis for his statement that a separate Vidarbha state would be formed at an "appropriate time".
"As the chief minister of united Maharashtra, Fadnavis should not be talking about Vidarbha statehood demand. If he wants to, he should first step aside from the post of United Maharashtra CM," he said.
On Monday, Fadnavis had said in Nagpur that his party principally stands in favour of smaller states. "But the Centre will decide when to carve out a separate state. It will be done at an appropriate time. But we want to do it amicably and not like Telangana," he had said.
As an MLA from Nagpur, Fadnavis has been a strong votary of a separate Vidarbha.
Rane, who was Congress campaign committee chief, also lashed out at Fadnavis for "reneging" on BJP's pre-poll promise to shut down all toll plazas in Maharashtra after coming to power.
"Before elections, his (Fadnavis') party had protested and announced a toll-free Maharashtra. Why this u-turn now?" the Congress leader asked.
He also attacked Fadnavis for his statement that industrialists in Mihan project in Nagpur would get direct electricity supply.
"What happens to the state electricity board which gives subsidies of Rs 10,000 crore to farmers from funds generated from industrial tariffs," Rane questionned.
"Within six months, people would realise that the previous Congress government was better," he said.
In a veiled attack on former CM Prithviraj Chavan, Rane alleged that many candidates in fray for the assembly polls were not provided funds and some party leaders had given up the fight even before the voting.
Rane also added that during the tours that he undertook to canvass for the party, it was brought to his notice that candidates did not get the funds sent by the party.
"It is the responsibility of the chief minister and the funds are normally routed to the candidates through the chief minister," Rane said.
He also denied any knowledge about the alleged theft of Rs 10 crore, which were meant to be sent the candidates for their campaign expenditure. "The amount of Rs 10 crore is nothing in an election campaign and the entire campaign does not come to a standstill because of this amount. Many party leaders had given up the fight even before it started," he said.
Rane said if there was indeed a theft, a police case would have been registered. "Since there is no FIR, hence there is no need to believe the speculation," he added.
Rane said when the 15-year-old alliance with NCP broke, it was evident that the Congress would lose power. "Some people in our party gave up the fight and surrendered even before the voting," he said without taking any names.
He said that in the capacity of election campaign committee chief, he would write to the party high command, seeking action against such leaders.
Hitting out at the former ally NCP, Rane said the state leadership of NCP was in full attendance at the swearing in of Devendra Fadnavis at Wankhede stadium.
"NCP's hidden pact with BJP was known before elections. However, it is not yet known whether the NCP's outside support to the minority government is for self protection or stable overnment," Rane said in reference to corruption cases against the NCP leaders.
Rane also hit out at the Shiv Sena for making "desperate" and "shameful" attempts to join the BJP government.
"If Bal Thackeray taught Shiv Sainiks self respect, his son Uddhav is acting as a desperate person with selfish interests," he charged.
Shiv Sena should stop talking about Marathi asmita (pride), he said.
To a question on Congress legislature party leader, the former Maharashtra chief minister said that an opposition leader needs to have an in-depth study of the administration and governance to keep the government on its toes.
"I don't want those whose names are doing rounds to be the Congress leader in the legislature," Rane, who lost the assembly polls, said when asked who was the apt choice.
Replying to a query, Rane said there was no Modi wave in the state, because out of the 27 meetings addressed by the Prime Minister, 16 candidates for whom he had campaigned, were defeated.
When asked if he wanted to be the state Congress president or be in the Legislative Council as there is one vacancy after the election of Prithviraj Chavan to the Assembly, Rane said he had not given it a thought.
"I will take a call after I get an offer," he said
In the recent elections, Rane, known as a strongman from Konkan region, had lost to a Shiv Sena candidate from his pocket-borough of Kudal in Sindhudurg district.