The Modi blitzkrieg that ensured the rout of the Congress-NCP combine in Maharashtra might cause some collateral damage. With the alliance winning only six of seats, there is a growing clamour from within and outside the Congress for the resignation of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
As the trend became clearer by Friday afternoon, there were reports that Chavan had put in his papers though his office denied the development.
What could complicate things for Chavan is the resignation by two Congress ministers. Taking responsibility for the defeat of his son Nilesh Rane in the Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri, Industries Minister Narayan Rane faxed his resignation letter to the CM. Similarly, Employment Guarantee and Water Conservation Minister Nitin Raut has offered to quit in view of the debacle, said sources.
"I have resigned on moral grounds," said Raut, a prominent Dalit face in state politics and represents Nagpur-North assembly seat.
Having tasted blood, the saffron party is clearly in a mood to slay the Congress for the second time. Demanding resignation of the Chavan cabinet, BJP president Devendra Phadnavis also sought snap polls to the assembly, which are scheduled to be held in October.
Of the 48 seats, only two went to the Congress – former CM Ashok Chavan from Nanded and Rajeev Satav from Hingoli. Its partner NCP bagged only four seats. In 2009, the Congress had won in 17 places, while NCP had managed to grab eight seats.
Ashok Chavan's victory turned out to be the only saving grace for the Congress in the state. Incidentally, CM Chavan was reluctant to give ticket to Ashok Chavan in the backdrop of the Adarsh taint.
"We admit that there were anti-incumbency factors. We would have overcome it had there been good leadership in the state. CM Chavan has turned out to be a huge liability," said a senior Congress leader.
The leader said if the party high command wants to save the party from complete decimation in assembly polls, it should give the CM's post to a mass leader with good administrative skills.
Another Congress politician noted that their ally NCP had performed better. "Western Maharashtra was known to be a Congress-NCP bastion. But we were wiped out except in Baramati and Satara. The CM should take responsibility for the defeat and quit at once."
Earlier, in an interview to dna, CM Chavan had said that in case of a poor show in the state, there would be a change in the leadership.
The NCP too blamed Chavan, holding him the reason for non-clearance of several files. He said, "He is more of a bureaucrat than a politician. He is the Manmohan Singh of Maharashtra. This situation must change now."