Maharashtra Chief Minister counterpart Prithviraj Chavan and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda held talks with Congress central leadership amid indications that decision on replacement of chief ministers will be made soon starting with Assam.
Chavan met Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel here last night for nearly an hour. Hooda had a 30-minute meeting with Gandhi on Saturday morning. Senior minister from Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma was also likely to meet top Congress leadership, party leaders said.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s fate hangs in balance, as the National Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar pushed hard for his removal to pave way for a fresh face ahead of Assembly elections scheduled in September.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political advisor Ahmed Patel and former defence minister AK Antony called on Pawar at his residence on Thursday, to discuss alliance, seat sharing and poll preparations in the state. READ MORE
Ridiculing media reports about his impending dismissal as chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan on Friday said that it was not the NCP but the Congress leadership which would decide who should be the state's CM. His comments a day after NCP President Sharad Pawar met top Congress leaders including Ahmed Patel and AK Antony, sparking intense speculation of a possible change of guard. Read more
Prithviraj Chavan appears to be rattled by reports that he may be replaced as chief minister of Maharashtra. He has admitted that the report distracted him from his work, but he would abide by whatever decision the Congress party leadership may take on the matter. Talking to dna at 'Varsha' the official residence of the chief minister, Chavan said that soon after the Congress lost the Lok Sabha elections, he had called on party president Sonia Gandhi and offered to resign. READ MORE
Party sources have said that party veterans AK Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad could go as observers after the party decides to replace Chavan. Congress could win only two and it ally NCP just four of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra this time.
Change of leadership in Haryana
But regarding Haryana Chief Minister's meeting with Sonia Gandhi, sources close to Hooda termed it as a "routine meeting". They said there was no talk about change of leadership in the state. AICC general secretary in-charge for Haryana Shakeel Ahmed told PTI, "Change of leadership either at PCC level or CLP level is not under consideration". The decision on replacement of the Chief Ministers is expected soon as part of massive organisational re-jig in states after the drubbing in Lok Sabha polls.
In Haryana, where Hooda is the Chief Minister, the party could win only one of the ten Lok Sabha seats. The Chief Minister's son Deepinder Hooda was the sole Congress candidate to win a Lok Sabha seat from the state.
There were voices against the style of functioning of Hooda in the Haryana unit of the Congress with former Union Minister Kumari Selja saying that the Chief Minister should have at least offered to resign following the party's poor show in the Lok Sabha polls. The party also plans to replace PCC chiefs in ten states including Uttar Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi had then told Haryana leaders to stop the infighting. READ MORE
AICC members said Assam could be the first state where a change of guard can take place followed by Maharashtra.
However, a decision in the case Haryana could be difficult as the state is going to elections later this year and a section feels that time is short, they said, pointing to the 'TINA' (there is no alternative) factor.
Tarun Gogoi likely to be replaced
While Assembly elections in Assam are scheduled in 2016, the term of Haryana Assembly expires in October and that of Maharashtra in December this year. Congress leadership has been under pressure to replace Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for long time as rebellion had mounted in the state unit, more so after the poor show of Congress in the Lok Sabha polls. Congress had managed to win only three of the 14 seats in Assam which was much below the party's expectations.
Since there are no early elections in Assam, the leadership views that if a change has to take place, it should be done now so that there is enough time for the new leadership in the state to prepare and perform in the Assembly elections.
However, the central leadership of the Congress is keen that any change of guard in the state should be done in an amicable manner. Gogoi had been in touch with the central leadership in the last few days. The party is likely to send some senior leaders as observers in the state before a final decision is taken.
Earlier in May, there were reports of a possibility of huge reshuffle within the Assam cabinet. Tarun Gogoi had even met Rahul Gandhi twice regarding the matter.
Congress considers removal of Virbhadra Singh
In May, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh too had met with Sonia Gandhi after the dismal performance of the Congress in the Lok Sabha election in the state.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Thursday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi after which he ruled out his resignation despite the poor showing of the party in his state in the Lok Sabha elections. "I have not resigned. Nobody has asked me resign," Singh told reporters after meeting the Congress chief.
He insisted that there was no need for him to resign as the Lok Sabha polls were not state elections. READ MORE