Former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan joins BJP

Mumbai: Former Congress leader Ashok Chavan addresses the media outside his residence, at Churchgate, in Mumbai, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. Photo: PTI

Mumbai: In a setback to Congress ahead of Lok Sabha elections, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday. He tendered his resignation on Monday.

The departure of Chavan, son of former chief Minister and Union Home Minister S B Chavan, follows the recent exits of senior Congress leaders Baba Siddique and Milind Deora, deepening the party's challenges in the state.

Amid speculation about the 65-year-old leader's possible induction into the BJP for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls, neither Chavan nor the BJP has confirmed this development.

Responding to queries about Chavan's political future, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis cryptically remarked, "Aagey aagey dekho hota hai kya" (wait and watch what happens).

Amid the changing political landscape in Mumbai, the news of Chavan's resignation prompted sharp reactions with Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray claiming the BJP is evolving into a "Congress Occupied BJP."

Expressing astonishment at Chavan's exit from the Congress, he highlighted the potential repercussions on state farmers' welfare if leaders prioritise personal interests.

Chavan emphasised that his decision to leave the Congress was personal and affirmed that he had not yet decided to join the BJP.

In his resignation letter to state Congress chief Nana Patole, Chavan stated he was resigning as a primary member and also stepped down as an MLA by submitting his resignation to assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar.

Meanwhile, Independent MLA from Amravati, Ravi Rana, claimed that 10 to 15 MLAs are in touch with Ashok Chavan. Rana claimed more such "earthquakes" will take place on February 15 during Amit Shah's visit to the Vidarbha region in east Maharashtra. He also claimed that "earthquakes" will rock the Shiv Sena (UBT) and NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar).

Chavan underscored that his choice to depart from Congress was independent and refrained from attributing specific reasons for his exit. The backdrop of the Adarsh Building scam mentioned in a white paper tabled in Parliament last week, a scandal that led to his resignation as state's Chief Minister in 2010, has drawn attention as a potential factor in his departure, a claim though denied by Chavan.

Chavan is an accused in the Adarsh housing society scam wherein a 31-storey posh building in south Mumbai was constructed allegedly on land owned by the Defence Ministry without getting the requisite permissions and clearances. Chavan is an accused under the provisions of the IPC for criminal conspiracy and cheating and under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Some of Chavan's relatives had figured in the list of beneficiaries.

CBI later in 2014 sought to delete Chavan's name from the case but this was rejected both by the special CBI court and later by the Bombay High Court in 2015. The matter is pending before the Supreme Court which had in 2018 stayed proceedings in the case. Chavan said he has not contacted any Congress leader or MLA when asked if a chunk of Congressmen will follow suit.


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