Ashok Chavan steps down as Maharashtra Congress chief; Thorat could be his successor
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan has stepped down from his post and the state unit of the party is likely to get a new head in the next few days. Senior party leader Balasaheb Thorat is the frontrunner for the post.
Chavan recently submitted his resignation to party president Rahul Gandhi, following the debacle of the party in the latest Lok Sabha elections.
In the general elections held in April-May, the Congress could not even retain its strength of two seats won in 2014. Chavan himself lost from Nanded constituency. Following this, he submitted his resignation to Gandhi. Chavan is believed to be hell-bent on his decision and has convened this to the party leadership.
State party leaders had discussed the party performance in the state in the Lok Sabha elections with Rahul Gandhi on Saturday. Following this, it became clear that Chavan would not continue in the post. “Chavan had at least three personal meetings with Rahul Gandhi over the last few days in Delhi. The party president tried to convince him to withdraw the resignation and continue for at least the elections, but he is firm on the resignation,” said a leader close Chavan.
The new state unit chief is expected to be appointed in the next few days. The party is expected to appoint a few deputy or executive leaders from various communities to attain ‘social engineering’ ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in October. Thorat was recently appointed as party’s legislative leader in state Assembly after the former leader of opposition in the lower house Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil defected to the BJP. Thorat is also a member of the Congress working committee — the party’s top decision-making body.
Chavan was first state unit chief to appeal all the state Congress leaders to resign from the post to facilitate party leadership to restructure the party organisation in the wake of party’s dismal performance at national level. He had also appealed Rahul Gandhi to withdraw his resignation by saying that the party president had done a lot for the party.
According to another party leader, Chavan was firm on his resignation as he does not want to take another ‘blot’ in Assembly elections if the party could not perform well. He had already complained to the party leadership how the senior leaders of the party in the state were not willing to take on the ruling BJP-Sena combine and were busy in ego-battles.
“Senior leaders from the state too had expressed reservations over the leadership of Chavan,” said another leader.