The Congress high command finally put an end to the political uncertainty in Maharashtra on Thursday by categorically stating that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan will continue in office and lead the party in the upcoming assembly elections.
AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash made this announcement in New Delhi and thus put the lid firmly on the raging speculation about Chavan's future. Following the rout of the Congress in the recent Lok Sabha elections, dissidents in the party mounted a strident campaign to ease out Chavan. Dissident leaders like Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who are all aspirants for the CM's post, warned the party leadership that there would be a repeat performance of disaster in the assembly elections scheduled for October if Chavan was retained.
Taking these warnings seriously, Congress president Sonia Gandhi held extensive consultations with senior party leaders. She asked party leader AK Antony to make an assessment about the political implications of continuing with Chavan. Antony submitted his report to Gandhi on Wednesday, following which she summoned Chavan to New Delhi. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also joined the exercise following his return from abroad. Ultimately it was decided that Chavan will lead the party in the assembly polls in his capacity as the CM.
Earlier, Chavan had made a detailed presentation to the central leadership and pointed out that the party had performed miserably in the assembly constituencies of all those who are opposing him. He said it would be unfair to single him out for the defeat of the party in the Lok Sabha polls when it was nearly wiped out from the rest of the country as well. He argued that his removal would, in fact, damage the prospects of the party in the upcoming polls since the new appointee will effectively have only two months to take decisions before the poll code came into force.