Mumbai, Feb 12 : Enjoying the reputation of a ‘go-getter’, senior Congress leader and former two-time Chief Minister Ashok Shankarrao Chavan – who quit the party after over four decades’ association – kept all political options close to his chest, here on Monday.
Hailing from the Chavan clan of Maharashtra’s Nanded which has been a Congress loyalist for over 80-years, Chavan, 66 – akin to his father Shankarrao Chavan – was also a two-time CM of the state, the first and only father-son duo in the state’s history to hold the state’s top executive post.
Among the major players in the backward Marathwada region and belonging to the politically dominant Maratha caste, Shankarrao Chavan (1920-2004) was the CM from February 1975-May 1977, and again from March 1986-June 1988, and revered as ‘Headmaster’.
His son Ashok Chavan was the CM from December 2008-October 2009 and after the Assembly elections, from November 2009-November 2010 – the second time he was forced to quit under the cloud of allegations pertaining to the infamous Adarsh Society scam in Colaba.
Besides the crowning glory as CM, Chavan was also the state Congress President (2014-2019), served as Minister handling several important portfolios under various CMs for over two decades, was twice a Lok Sabha member from Nanded (1987 and 2014)), as MLA and MLC for various terms.
Last year in October 2023, he was inducted into the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, and even his wife Ameeta A.Chavan has been MLA for one term (2014-2019), while his brother-in-law Bhaskar Bapurao Khatgaonkar-Patil was three-time MLA and three-term MP.
Speaking briefly to the media, Chavan said he has not thought of joining the Bharatiya Janata Party or any other party, but will decide his future course of political action in the next couple of days.
“I have quit the Congress Party, as MLA and from all other party posts today… I have broken all my involvement with the party.I have no complaints and till yesterday I worked honestly for the party,” said Chavan.
To repeated queries, he declared that he has yet to decide on joining any party, including the BJP, and will announce his next moves in a couple of days.
He also categorically stated that he has not made any kind of political demands to join any party, plus rubbished speculation that he was ‘in touch’ with other Congress MLAs to quit along with him.
On the reasons for his quitting, Chavan said: “There may be some reasons… But I am not the kind to wash dirty linen in public… I don’t have to tell everything in public.It’s not in my nature to talk of any individuals in public,” Chavan asserted.
On the charges by the Congress leaders, he countered: “I admit the Congress has given me a lot, my family has a legacy with the party.But even I have worked very hard and sincerely for the party till I was with it.However, now I have made a decision to quit, and I do not hold any grudges against anyone.”
Political circles speculate on the probable reasons for his quitting – among them being the cracks coming up in the national Opposition INDIA bloc – the projected win of the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, intra-party differences with certain state leaders.
Chavan becomes the third major leader to quit the Congress in the first two months of 2024 as the countdown for the Lok Sabha elections gets underway, with more reportedly in the pipeline.
On January 14, former Union minister Milind M.Deora dumped the Congress to join Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, and senior leader and ex-MLA Baba Ziauddin Siddique quit to join Nationalist Congress Party led by Deputy CM Ajit Pawar.
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