New Delhi : Even after such a disastrous showing in the recent Lok Sabha elections, when the party could win only two seats Maharashtra, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan seems to have emerged politically unscathed as the senior party leadership struggles to find a way forward. Chavan was reported to have expressed his desire to quit during a recent meeting with party president Sonia Gandhi, but had been asked to stay put.
However, this decision has not put an end to the unease among his senior cabinet ministers –Patangrao Kadam, Balasaheb Thorat, Harshvardhan Patil and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil — who have all made a beeline to Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul. Though these ministers describe their meeting with the Gandhis as ‘courtesy calls’ nothing camouflages the sense of desperation that prevails among the party legislators. “With Chavan as the chief minister till the elections, we are doomed to repeat the same disastrous performance. May be with a change a leadership in the government and organisation we can salvage the situation to some extent,” said a senior legislator while talking to this correspondent.
Chavan was sent by the party leadership to take charge after the then incumbent Ashok Chavan had been asked to quit in the aftermath of the Adarsh housing scam. Ironically, Chavan, dubbed as the tainted, is one of the two MPs who have won their seats from Maharashtra in this election.
The chief minister who is seen as a ‘bureaucratic functionary’ in the mould of the former prime minister Manmohan Singh has not been able to establish a working rapport with the party legislators leading to widespread dissent against him. “No point is going to be served by changing the chief minister with just a few months to go for the polls. He has been in office for three years, and if he could not make an impact on the people, it cannot be expected that the next man would change the situation,” said a senior AICC functionary.
However, the legislators clamouring for a change feel that under Chavan the party would go down without even putting up a semblance of a fight, and if there is a new leader then at least there would be the much needed vigour in the battle. “We cannot overlook that the BJP-Shiv Sena combine has been out of power for 15 years in the state, and is now hungry for power after such a sensational win in the Lok Sabha elections. Unfortunately, the chief minister has never even given a hint that he is battle ready,’ said the senior legislator.