Ashok Chavan To NDTV On Leaving Party

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'Congress Sinking, Discontent Brewing': Ashok Chavan To NDTV On Leaving Party

Mr Chavan also refuted rumours that he had wanted to join the BJP for a long time.

Explaining his shock exit from a party he had been a part of for 38 years, former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan has said the Congress is “sinking” and discontent is brewing among its ranks. 

In an exclusive interview with NDTV on Thursday, Mr Chavan, who has been nominated for the Rajya Sabha polls by the BJP, said the “mood of the nation” is in favour of his new party and its track record on development is for all to see. 

To a question on claims that he quit the Congress and joined the BJP on Tuesday to get the Rajya Sabha nomination, the former chief minister said in Hindi, “There is no truth to this. I have been a Lok Sabha MP twice and an MLA several times. I could have asked the Congress to nominate me. The state of the Congress vis-a-vis the BJP… I don’t see them ready for a fight in the state. If you don’t fight, how will you win? There is no preparation.”

“Time has been wasted for the last year and a half. I think a better opportunity lies… What is the point of me getting elected alone? I would say the mood of the nation is increasing in the BJP’s favour by the day and the opposition is getting weaker. The work that the BJP has done under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been amazing and it is visible,” he added.

On the Congress saying that its doors are open for him and he should explain why he chose to leave, Mr Chavan said – in a possible reference to the Adarsh scam that led to his resignation as chief minister in 2010 –  that he faced many difficulties that were “politically created” and implied that he did not get enough support. 

Refusing to comment on speculation that Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam was speaking about state party chief Nana Patole when he said that Mr Chavan had quit because of one leader, the former chief minister appeared to take a dig when he said, “I have said even earlier that I don’t want to criticise anybody personally. I have left the party and joined the BJP. Even if they introspect on what has happened, it is good for them. Some people must be happy that their competition has been reduced, that is also possible.”

‘Everyone Is Worried’

Mr Chavan also refuted rumours that he had wanted to join the BJP for a long time and emphasised that he had worked for the Congress, attended every meeting and even worked to strengthen the Maha Vikas Aghadi – the party’s coalition with the Udhhav Thackery faction of the Shiv Sena and the Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP – right till the last day.  

“I am grateful to the BJP that they nominated me to the Rajya Sabha within 48 hours, so they must have seen some qualities in me. I have not spoken to any Congress MLA and asked them to defect. Every person there is worried, they have problems. They are wondering what their future will look like, whether the party will win elections. These issues have not been addressed and that is why discontent is brewing,” he said. 

Admitting that he had been worried for a long time about how things were in the Congress, he said he took the decision now because it was as good a time as any.

‘Problem Is Congress Has Not Changed’

Mr Chavan was one of only two Congress candidates to win the Lok Sabha election from Maharashtra in 2014. When he was asked what has changed in the Congress between then and now, the former chief minister said, “The Congress needs to change. The problem is that the Congress has not changed. If you don’t focus on today’s challenges, today’s age, today’s aspirations and the needs of the youth, how will you win? There’s a mismatch between what people want and what we are doing, which the other side is doing skillfully.”

“Somewhere we (the Congress) are missing the mood of the nation, to tap the pulse of the people. This is an issue that, not just me, many of my former colleagues are worried about. They are saying if nothing is happening now, what will happen in the future? Nobody is speaking up, but it is sinking day by day,” he claimed. 

On discussions with the Congress high command, Mr Chavan said he had told them about the situation, but not that he was going to quit.

The new entrant to the BJP said he is excited about his new innings and is prepared to work hard with new people and a new party. He said Maratha reservation is one of the biggest issues in Maharashtra now and he will discuss it with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar. 

“Farmer issues and unemployment are also problems that need to be addressed. But a solution can be found to everything,” he asserted.

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