Time for Congress to look beyond non-performing Chavan

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan
A week after Congress's Central leadership refused to remove Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, voice of dissidence are again coming out of various quarters demanding his removal. At least 20 Congress leaders from the State including former Chief Ministers Narayan Rane and Ashok Chavan once again called for resignation of Chief Minister during their meeting with A K Antony on Saturday.

While deposing before the AK Antony-led study committee in Delhi which is constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to look into the reasons of party's poor performance in the State, spoke against Chavan, blaming him solely for the debacle in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. During a four-hour long meeting, the State leaders not only criticised Chavan's style of functioning but also slammed him for failing to deliver on his commitments. The ongoing developments have highlighted cracks in the Maharashtra Congress just months ahead of the Assembly elections.

The Central leadership in Delhi might have silenced, at least for now, the loud cries against Chavan, a true loyalist of Sonia Gandhi, but it would surely have forced the party to give a rethink to its 2010 decision of appointing him as Maharashtra CM.

Has Chavan failed to deliver results ?

Chavan a seasoned politician, familiar with Delhi politics was sent to takeover as Maharashtra Chief Minister in 2010, replacing Ashok Chavan, whose name surfaced in the Adarsh Housing scam.

Ever since, Chavan, termed as an outsider in State politics, took over as Maha CM, the Congress has lost its ground level connectivity. The party failed to hold its grip with grass-root workers. With no knowledge of State politics, Chavan failed to bind together the district units of the party which further affected the performance of Congress. Some of the senior Congress leaders in the State are also blaming him for party's most humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Lok Sabha election. The ruling party's 2009 tally of 17 seats (besides its ally NCP's 8 seat) crashed to 2 (NCP won 4 seats) in 2014 Lok Sabha election under Chavan's leadership. Though, Modi wave is being quoted as the main reason for Congress's rout all over the country, in Maharashtra, poor leadership under Chavan could be termed as main reason for party's defeat.

Chavan has always been known for his 'clean image' and the party leadership tried to cash-in his image to brush away its past sins in the State. But, as the Lok Sabha results reflected it failed to accomplish its plans. For quite long time, Chavan has been accused of shielding the scamsters. Opposition parties have been alleging that Chavan never took action against the people involved in different scams. Important to mention here, the Adarsh scam probe report which was submitted in the State Assembly indicting several top party leaders from the State. But under Chavan as Chief Minister State Cabinet blindly rejected it.

Is Chavan solely responsible for Congress's disaster in Lok Sabha poll?

Moreover, the Irrigation scam in Maharashtra is one of the largest scandals to hit the State in recent times. According to the Economic Survey of Maharashtra 2012, while irrigation projects cleared in the State were the costliest in India, there was only a 0.1% increase in area under irrigation. As the controversy over irrigation scam blew up to uncontrollable proportions, NCP chief's nephew stepped down but only to be re-inducted in the State Cabinet after a sham of State guided investigation.

Handling of agrarian crisis in Maharashtra further proved his disinterest in handling State's affairs. A large number of farmers have committed suicide during his regime due to poor irrigation infrastructure, grossly overlooked by the ruling party, but Chavan failed to deliver results on this front too.

The four-year stint of Chavan has been marked by rampant corruption, arrogant, insensitive and unresponsive attitude of the State administration, deteriorating Law & Order and large number of farmers committing suicide. Change of guard at this stage would not work for Congress at a stage when party's is staring at imminent defeat in upcoming State election. The party could now focus on revamping and improving its connectivity at grass-root level to minimise the loss in the Assembly election.

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