A legislature party meeting of the Congress here on Monday witnessed high drama as a group of members of Maharashtra’s principal ruling party walked out in protest against last week’s chargesheet against former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh scam.
The scene made several party insiders to later admit it was “not a good sign” ahead of the July 25 elections to the Maharashtra legislative council. The Congress, they said, would now have to take a call on whether or not to contest four out of the 11 seats that are going to the polls.
The party has a strength of 82 seats, and enjoys the support of 11 independents. There is a quota of 25 votes for the election of one candidate. A further growth in internal dissent, according to insiders, would force the party to rework its strategy, especially to make the agitated legislators toe the party line.
Earlier in the day, the meeting saw legislators owing allegiance to Chavan vociferously raising the issue of the CBI chargesheeting their leader. Much to the surprise of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and other members, Ashok Chavan’s supporters were highly critical against the state government for not approaching the high court challenging the chargesheet.
A former minister, who is a close confidant of Ashok Chavan, later told Business Standard that the government “has back-stabbed us”. The government, he added, “has not done anything great” by filing an affidavit in the Bombay high court challenging the CBI investigation into the Adarsh housing society scam. “In fact, we had expected that the government would have immediately approached the court against the CBI chargesheet. Instead, it remained silent.”
The Ashok Chavan supporters, he informed, would now seek the appointment with party president Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of the present situation. This apart, Congress’s elected members from Nanded civic bodies and local self-government would proceed to Delhi, seeking Gandhi’s help.
Another supporter of Ashok Chavan, from Marathwada, said he “will like to remind the party that it should not neglect” a former chief minister. “The government should have, since the beginning, opposed the CBI probe and come out in open support of Chavan,” he said. The Congress “should not take for granted” any support from Chavan’s supporters in the coming state council elections, he added.
On its part, the Congress downplayed today’s outburst. A senior minister belong to the party said the brass could understand the resentment of Chavan’s supporters. “We will take them into confidence,” he added.