Criticised by Cong and NCP leaders, will Prithviraj Chavan contest Maharashtra polls?

In an apparent bid to prove his critics wrong, supporters of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan are reportedly persuading him to contest the Assembly elections in Maharashtra from his home district of Satara. Chavan has long been criticised as lacking a mass base. Despite calls from senior Congress leaders in the state for his removal as chief minister ahead of the Assembly elections, the party high command has decided to persist with him and Chavan has reportedly decided to lead the effort from the front and could indeed throw his hat in the electoral ring.

A former Rajya Sabha MP, Chavan was elected to the state legislative council after he was despatched to Maharashtra in the aftermath of Ashok Chavan's resignation in the wake of the Adarsh scandal.

On Sunday, Chavan reportedly told reporters in Karad that he would consider the party activists' demand that he contest.

 Criticised by Cong and NCP leaders, will Prithviraj Chavan contest Maharashtra polls?

Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra. AFP

The Satara district Congress committee on Saturday passed a resolution stating that Chavan should contest the upcoming Assembly election. “Chavan’s contribution in the development of Karad and Satara has been immense since he took over as chief minister of the state in 2010. The party activists want Chavan to contest the upcoming assembly election. So, we passed the resolution stating the same in a meeting held on Saturday. We have sent it to party observers for their information,” said Anandrao Patil, a member of the legislative council (MLC) and district president of the Satara congress committee, speaking to Firstpost.

Chavan, who hails from Karad in Satara district of Western Maharashtra, is an MLC presently. Party activists have chosen three Assembly seats from Satara -- Karad South, Karad North and Maan -- for Chavan to choose from. Since Chavan's residence falls in Karad South Assembly constituency, he could opt for it, say party leaders.

“Chavan has been voted to Lok Sabha in 1991, 1996 and 1998. But he lost the Lok Sabha election in 1999 after Sharad Pawar parted ways with the Congress and formed the NCP. Some leaders from the Congress and other parties have been alleging that he has no mass base. So, if he contests, we will show the kind of mass base he has,” said another senior Congress leader.

The leader pointed out that it would also send a strong message that Chavan is leading the Congress from the front. “Chavan has been insisting that the Congress will fight upcoming assembly election under his leadership. So, it is necessary that he must contest the election, which will send out a strong message to the Congress's ally NCP that has been accusing him being slow in taking decisions,” the leader said.

For the last few weeks, the fight between the Congress and NCP has been escalating over who will lead the Assembly election campaign. While NCP leaders have said they are not keen to contest the Assembly elections under Chavan's leadership, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has also added fuel to the fire by claiming that the Congress top brass in Delhi is keen that he take over the reins of the Congress in Maharashtra. This claim was contested by Chavan earlier last week.

Updated Date: Jul 15, 2014 07:47:20 IST