Almost three years ago, the Congress high command removed Ashok Chavan as chief minister in the wake of the Adarsh scam and brought in Mr Clean Prithviraj Chavan.
US-educated Chavan, 67, has lived up to his image but has failed to raise funds for the party.
Traditionally, the Congress has depended on whoever is its chief minister in Maharashtra, which has 48 Lok Sabha seats, to generate funds for the organisation. Mumbai is the country’s commercial capital and has always helped raise funds. But Chavan’s Mr Clean image has now proved to be a practical liability.
Elections to the legislative assemblies in five states, including important ones like Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, have been announced. But Chavan has failed to raise any money for the party’s war chest. The CM’s camp declined to comment.
The Mumbai real estate industry has been a big source of funds. Successive chief ministers have tapped it. But this time around no builder is willing to give big donations.
The new development control (DC) regulations, introduced by Chavan, resulted in greater transparency and increased revenue flow into the BMC’s coffers by charging premium from builders for using balcony area and flower beds. He reduced the scope for corruption by cutting down the discretionary powers of the municipal commissioner.
These steps will certainly benefit the industry in the long run but builders are unhappy. “Earlier, we could collect money from flat buyers for balcony, flower bed areas and give them bigger flats. But now we have to pay money upfront to the BMC as per ready reckoner rates. So, where is the money to be generated in cash?” a leading builder asked.
In fact, during his first year as the CM, Chavan avoided meeting builders lest he be accused of being involved in any deal.
The Congress is also handicapped by the fact that the presidents of the state and Mumbai units of the party, Manikrao Thakare and Janardhan Chandurkar, have no connect with either builders or industrialists in the city.
Thakare from Yavatmal has been the MPCC president since 2008. But he is still to connect with the Who’s Who of Mumbai like stockbrokers and diamond traders.
MPCC treasurer Patangrao Kadam is a state minister with rural orientation. Former treasurer Vijay Kalantari was a Mumbai-based businessman extremely well connected with India Inc and he played a major role in raising funds for the party.
Chandurkar, who assumed office in April, is from Kherwadi in Bandra. He too has no links with the corporate world. City Congress treasurer Dr Amarjit Manhas is a non-controversial and low-profile businessman.
But city Congress presidents like Rajni Patel, Murli Deora, Gurudas Kamat and Kripashankar Singh had traditionally helped raise funds for the organisation. Chandurkar, who is unknown in corporate circles, is unable to do it.
It is learnt that the party is unable to even repair the 15 vehicles it had given to district presidents and presidents of front organisations. “My Tata Safari needs urgent repairs. The costs could go up to Rs50,000. But the party has no money,” a district president said.
Manhas, however, said when vehicles were given to office-bearers it was made clear that fuel charges and maintenance would be their job. “We have adequate funds for regular activities,” he said.
Now, Congress ministers plan to raise funds and send them to the AICC treasury to be used in the assembly polls.
Mumbai is the country’s commercial capital and has always helped raise funds. But Prithviraj Chavan’s Mr Clean image has now proved to be a practical liability
The Mumbai real estate industry has been a big source of funds. But this time around no builder is willing to give big donations.