With the industries minister all set to resign from the Prithviraj Chavan government today, members of the Narayan Rane camp were making their last-ditch efforts to make him change his mind on Sunday. Though Rane had only announced his decision to quit the Cabinet, there are strong indications that he may leave the Congress also. "It does not make any sense for him to resign as minister and stay back in the party. He will have to either join another party or form one on his own," a source close to him said.
"Rane is not as politically weak as he is made out to be by Chavan supporters. He still has an impressive base in the Konkan and parts of Mumbai. The defeat of his son Nilesh in the Lok Sabha elections from Sindhudurg does not mean that his base has been wiped out. In the parliamentary polls, the Congress was wiped out across the country because of the Modi wave. Hence it would be unfair to hold Rane alone responsible for the rout. In any case, the political situation is changing and Rane can certainly get an impressive number of Congress candidates in the polls scheduled for October," a senior Congress leader observed.
The Rane camp said their leader was quitting for several reasons and the failure of the party high command to fulfil its commitment to make him chief minister was just one of them. The commitment was made to him nine years ago by Margaret Alva when she was the AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra. Rane, a former chief minister, had quit the Shiv Sena following serious differences with Uddhav Thackeray. However, what is more worrying for Rane is the performance of the Congress in the assembly elections. He was hoping that Chavan would be removed after the disastrous performance of the party in the LS polls when it won only two seats, including that of Nanded when dissident leader Ashok Chavan was elected. But after keeping Chavan on tenterhooks for several weeks, the Congress high command eventually let him keep his job. This triggered Rane's decision to resign.
Sources close to Rane said that despite the severe drubbing in the polls, Chavan had not changed his style of functioning. "Several decisions continue to be on hold. For example, the new policy on cluster development and heritage issue are crying for Chavan's attention. Appointments to several government corporations and the announcement of the list of special executive officers are still pending. Even a simple decision like the appointment of a chairman for the state child rights commission is not being taken," an MLA close to Rane observed.
BJP divided on Rane
Meanwhile, a section of the BJP is of the opinion that Rane should be admitted to the party, notwithstanding strong objections from the Shiv Sena. Some feel that the party lacked a mass leader since the demise of Gopinath Munde, and Rane fit the bill. However, another section within the BJP is of the opinion that the Sena will pull out of the alliance if Rane is admitted. BJP's new president Amit Shah is reportedly keen on the alliance being kept intact since the polls are just round the corner.