Putting an end to months of speculation, Congress leader in Maharashtra Narayan Rane today announced his resignation from the party amid indication he was veering towards an innings in the ruling BJP.
Putting an end to months of speculation, Congress leader in Maharashtra Narayan Rane today announced his resignation from the party amid indication he was veering towards an innings in the ruling BJP. Announcing his much-awaited decision in his home turf Sindhudurg district in the coastal Konkan region, Rane accused the Congress of reneging on the promise of making him the chief minister when he joined the party 12 years ago after leaving the Shiv Sena. State Congress president Ashok Chavan, however, said Rane’s allegations were “devoid of facts”, while the BJP in Maharashtra maintained it was time the Congress introspected why its leaders were leaving the grand old party. “I sent my resignation letter to (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi today,” Rane said. “In the letter, I thanked them and haven’t criticised either Sonia or (vice-president) Rahul Gandhi,” the former chief minister added. The Maratha leader, who was the chief minister in 1999 while in the Shiv Sena, told a press meet here he had also resigned as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council. The 65-year-old Konkan strongman said he was yet to decide on his next political move. “I have not yet decided where to go,” he said, referring to speculation about his joining the BJP, and added he would make an announcement on this before Dussehra, which falls on September 30.
The former Shiv Sainik joined the Congress on July 26, 2005, and was the next day made revenue minister in the then Congress-led government in the state. “(Congress leader) Ahmed Patel had told me after I joined the party that I would be made the chief minister,” said the firebrand politician. The conjecture about Rane joining the BJP was triggered by reports suggesting he had met BJP president Amit Shah in Ahmedabad a few months ago. During the recent Ganesh festival, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had visited Rane’s residence, further fuelling the speculation. Rane said Nilesh Rane, his son and former Congress MP, had also resigned from the party. His other son Nitesh, a Congress MLA, had not quit yet, the senior Rane said.
“But he will quit later, along with many Congress and Shiv Sena legislators,” he added. Mounting an attack on Chavan, a former chief minister, Rane said he did not have “any qualification” to hold the post of MPCC president. “After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, when the Congress was considering a replacement for Vilasrao Deshmukh, 48 legislators backed me and only 32 supported Chavan but I was overlooked and he was made the chief minister,” Rane said. He added that while Rahul had made him an MLC, Chavan was “camping in Delhi to ensure I didn’t become one”. Chavan chose not to give elaborate reaction.
“I came to know through television channels that Narayan Rane has decided to leave the party and resign from party posts. “Whatever reasons he gave are devoid of facts. I wish him luck for his future assignments. I will put forth the facts in due course,” Chavan told PTI. Rane, who has pockets of influence in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, was expelled from the Sena by then supremo Bal Thackeray after he voiced displeasure over the latter’s son Uddhav gaining prominence in the party. A tough-talking leader, Rane, who was handpicked by Thackeray as chief minister when he decided to remove Manohar Joshi ahead of the 1999 Assembly polls, recently claimed he had received an offer from the Sena to return to its fold.
He, however, did not say if he was offered any post. “It’s not about any post. I said I don’t want to rejoin the Sena. If the Sena doesn’t want me, why would the offer have been made,” Rane had said. Reacting to Rane’s exit from the Congress, Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe told PTI it was “improbable” that her party would have invited Rane back to its fold. AICC chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in Delhi that the former Maharashtra chief minister’s move was “intriguing” as it came a day after what he called levelling of allegations against Rane by a BJP leader over his alleged connections with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
The recent threat by the Sena to pull out of the BJP-led coalition government is being seen as an attempt to thwart Rane’s entry into the BJP. On the Sena’s threat to withdraw from the government in Maharashtra, Rane had said, “This is the old style of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray”. Rane had said the Sena often enacted the “drama” of threatening to quit the government while enjoying the privileges of power. At a recent rally in Kudal, Rane had blasted the Congress for what he described as the injustice it had done to him and said his supporters would contest the upcoming panchayat polls under a new entity –‘Samarth Vikas Panel’.