Several senior leaders and former ministers including Patangrao Kadam, Balasaheb Thorat and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil are said to be strong contenders for the post
Mumbai : Having led Congress to its worst-ever performances in Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is likely to face stiff resistance from rival factions in his bid to become leader of the Legislature Party today.
A day before the 42 newly elected MLAs of the party are scheduled to meet to elect their leader, strong voices have emerged against Chavan’s appointment to the post after the debacle.
“Congress fared miserably in the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls under Prithviraj Chavan’s leadership. It would be unfair if he is made Congress Legislative Party Leader (CLP) leader,” Abdul Sattar, an MLA from Marathwada and confidante of former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, told reporters.
“There is tremendous resentment among newly elected MLAs and candidates who lost due to how the campaign was run,” he said, adding around 25 to 30 candidates lost because adequate funds were not given to them to run their campaign.
He claimed about 30 MLAs will be meeting tonight to chalk out their strategy for the CLP meeting tomorrow where leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge will be present as central observer for the election.
“There is no way that Prithviraj Chavan will be accepted by newly elected MLAs. We had to face poll reverses because of his style of functioning. If he is made CLP leader, the party will suffer,” he said.
Several senior leaders and former ministers including Patangrao Kadam, Balasaheb Thorat and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil were said to be contenders for the post.
“We need a new face who is knowledgeable about issues and a good orator who is ready to take on the government, but Chavan has none of the qualities,” Sattar said.
Ashok Chavan, who had to step down after being embroiled in the Adarsh scam and had to make way for Prithviraj Chavan, has had strained relations with his successor.
Sattar’s fulmination against Prithviraj Chavan came a day after senior leader and party’s election campaign committee chief Narayan Rane made a veil criticism of the former Chief Minister, saying many candidates were not provided funds and some party leaders had given up the fight even before the voting.
“It is the responsibility of the Chief Minister and the funds are normally routed to the candidates through the Chief Minister,” Rane had said, adding during the campaign he had come across complaints about resources not reaching candidates.
Rane, a bitter critic of Chavan, is himself out of contention for CLP leader’s post after losing the election from Kudal, a seat he represented for six terms.
Despite a strong possibility of factionalism coming out in the open at the legislature party meeting and perceptible anger against Chavan for the electoral debacles, there is the likelihood of the newly elected MLAs authorising party president Sonia Gandhi to choose their leader.
Chavan, who has a clean public image and is said to enjoy the confidence of the party high command, may still have luck on his side and, in the event of Shiv Sena joining the BJP-led government, may end up becoming the Leader of Opposition. -PTI