Rane stages a tactical retreat

Will remain with Congress, continue as Minister

Mumbai

Industries Minister Narayan Rane, who had resigned from the Cabinet recently, meekly surrendered on Tuesday, announcing that he will remain with the Congress and will continue to be a minister. Apparently, he has reconciled to the fact that he would foreclose his political options if he exits from the party at this point.

The state BJP, which has been scouting for a rural face to fill the vacuum created by the departure of Gopinath Munde, does not feel that Rane fits the bill as the latter’s  appeal is limited to Sindhudurg.  The Sena, which Rane had left in a huff, surely would not want him on board; and in the MNS the political space is dominated by Raj Thackeray which he is not inclined to share with another political heavyweight.

According to political observers, this is a tactical retreat as Rane is keenly watching the events unfold in the Ashok Chavan paid news case. In case Chavan loses the case, Rane realizes he could be a political beneficiary by default.  Also, the results of the Assembly elections would impact the Congress leadership in the state and could open floodgates of opportunity for Rane.

 “After discussions with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan and other leaders, I have decided to remain with the Congress,” said Rane on Tuesday.

“I spoke twice with AICC in-charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash, during the day. I’ve been assured that I’ll be treated with dignity and honor,” he added.

Rane also said that he shall resume his duties as a minister from Wednesday and would also immediately start campaigning for the party.

When asked about the kind of assurances he has got from the party, Rane said, “I’ve decided to trust the party. I want to stay active in the politics. For that one needs to trust somebody and I decided to trust the Congress.”

Rane said that he has also told the party that he doesn’t want to contest the assembly elections this time. “My first preference will be my son, Nilesh,” he added. He also said that he doesn’t regret that his followers have joined Shiv Sena.

Rane also said that although it is not necessary that Congress will win, but he will work towards the party’s win in the upcoming Assembly polls. Earlier, while tendering his resignation on July 21, Rane had said that the party is all set to get defeated under the leadership of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Rane’s resignation, after lobbying hard for Chavan’s removal before the Assembly polls in the aftermath of Congress’ dismal showing in the Lok Sabha elections, was seen as a pressure tactic by the influential leader from Konkan.

His decision to withdraw the resignation without securing the post of even state party chief or head of the election campaign committee, leave alone the chief ministership, is likely to be construed as a loss of face for Rane.

Replying to questions Rane, however, said he is an ambitious person and continues to have chief ministerial ambitions.

“I am an ambitious person and have still not given up my chief ministerial ambitions,” he said.

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