Analysis: Chavan Exit, Another Dent In The Congress’ Image

Analysis: Chavan Exit, Another Dent In The Congress’ Image

Ashok Chavan’s goodbye to the Congress will not cause great damage to the party, since he cannot be said to be a mass leader by any stretch of imagination, except for some following in his home district of Nanded

Abhay MokashiUpdated: Friday, February 16, 2024, 11:16 PM IST
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Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and former Congress Leader Ashok Chavan needs to be complimented for resigning as Member of the State Legislative Assembly, while quitting the Congress to join the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Chavan has quit as a legislator, unlike many others in the state belonging to the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party who did not quit — rather they stuck to their seats. The Shiv Sena legislators left their parent party to form a government in alliance with the BJP and the NCP legislators moved away from their main party to join the government.

Chavan’s resignation need not be seen as an ethical issue. He did so to avoid disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and also because he was promised a Rajya Sabha ticket. Given the quota of the BJP in Maharashtra his election is certain, so it was only a barter when it came to Chavan’s joining the BJP. In return for his blow to the Congress by quitting it, he was rewarded with a Rajya Sabha ticket.

Chavan is an accused in the Adarsh Housing scam over which the BJP has been flaying him and the Congress. Chavan, a two-time chief minister with a good track record, had to step down as CM following the attack by the BJP. Though there was no prima facie evidence against him, the Congress buckled and asked him to resign as CM. Chavan was deeply hurt by the action of the central leadership of the Congress over the issue and felt let down by the party, when he expected the party leadership to stand by him. He was never comfortable within the party after that, but seemed to be in a dilemma over quitting it.

Chavan is another example of political entities who cannot live without power. It was clear that he would not be given a ticket by the Congress for the Rajya Sabha elections to be held on February 27, and he was not confident of either he or the Congress winning the Nanded Lok Sabha seat. So, it was the right opportunity for a power-greedy politician to join a party that would give him a seat in Parliament with ease. Towards that end, there was no better choice for him than to join the BJP, where he was given the Rajya Sabha election ticket within hours of joining the party, denying the opportunity to scores of aspirants who have contributed to the party’s success over the years.

Similar is the situation of the aspirants in the Shiv Sena led by Eknath Shinde, as the party has given the Rajya Sabha ticket to the newest member of the party, Milind Deora.

No political party in India takes the view of the party’s members while deciding who should contest the elections. In a situation where, in almost all the political parties the internal elections are more of a farce, it is too much to expect that the members would decide on the candidates.

Leaders who keeping speaking highly about democracy and the need to strengthen it, or who claim that India is the mother of democracy, are found to be least democratic themselves when it comes to internal democracy within their political organisations.

The BJP leadership has been accused of using central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department to corner leaders from the Opposition parties and make them “surrender” to the BJP. The BJP leadership has been talking about making India Congress-free. This is important for the party, since, apart from the BJP itself, the Congress is the only political party to have its base in all the states and Union Territories in the country. The Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were the other two parties with a good all-India party base, which is now lost.

Though the BJP is popular in the country, going by the seat-share in Parliament and its presence in the ruling alliances in a majority of states and union territories in the country, it is not possible for the party to wipe out the Congress from India’s political stage, given that the party still has its vote bank. The next best option for the BJP is to weaken the Congress, and that is what it is trying to do. The BJP leadership feels that it is futile to win over the mass base of the Congress, as the BJP has a strong mass base in several states in the country. Thus, the BJP has started poaching Congress leaders in different states. It was not difficult to do so, as a sizeable number of Congress leaders are power-hungry and do not carry within them the courage and determination of those who were with the Congress during the freedom struggle, who neither betrayed the freedom movement nor apologised to the British to join hands with them.

Ashok Chavan’s goodbye to the Congress will not cause great damage to the party, since he cannot be said to be a mass leader by any stretch of imagination, except for some following in his home district of Nanded. Even his father, former chief minister of Maharashtra and former defence minister, the late Shankarrao Chavan, was not a mass leader, though he was a senior Congress leader. But Ashok Chavan’s exit from the Congress will help the BJP in its game plan of creating the public opinion that the Congress is on its way to extinction and that is the reason senior leaders of the party are quitting it.

The BJP also has the great advantage of its dominance over social media and a favourable mainstream media. Television anchors are in ecstasy that Congress leaders are quitting the party one after the other to join the BJP.

Among the elected representatives on the BJP ticket, a large number have come from the Congress and it will not be surprising to see, on scrutiny, that the original BJP members have been outnumbered by the new entrants.

The author is a senior journalist and media trainer. He tweets at @a_mokashi

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