New Delhi: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will continue in his post and lead Congress in the upcoming Assembly elections, the party's high command said today as it put an end to the suspense over the issue of change of leadership in the state.
“Chavan will continue as Maharashtra Chief Minister and the coming Assembly elections will be fought under his leadership,” AICC General Secretary Mohan Prakash, the in-charge of party affairs for the state, told PTI. Prakash's statement puts to rest the speculation over Chavan's fate in the wake of Congress's dismal showing in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
The signal from AICC came after Chavan met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today. Sources said there was a growing feeling within a section of the party that any leadership change at the eleventh hour would prove counter-productive in the poll-bound state.
Chavan had yesterday called on Congress President Sonia Gandhi and later said he had had a “very good meeting” with her during which he discussed the party's readiness for the October Assembly elections in Maharashtra. In the wake of the party's rout in the general elections, a section of its leaders in Maharashtra had sought Chavan's removal from the post of chief minister.
Congress secured just two of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra in the recent polls. One of the winners is former state chief minister Ashok Chavan, a known detractor of Chavan.
Chavan is the second Congress chief minister to get a reprieve from the party high command after Haryana's Bhupinder Singh Hooda, whose state, too, is headed for Assembly polls along with Maharashtra.
AICC's decision to back the Maharashtra and Haryana chief ministers comes a day after BJP brought in Amit Shah as its party chief.
A close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 50-year-old Shah had scripted BJP's stunning victory in the key state of Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections.
Hooda had yesterday met Sonia after which there were clear indications from the Congress high command that he would continue in his post and also lead the party in the Haryana Assembly elections.
With Congress taking a beating in the Lok Sabha polls in Haryana as well, there was speculation about an overhaul of the party's state leadership.
Senior Congress leader Birender Singh had recently spoken out against Hooda's leadership and blamed him for Congress's poll debacle in Haryana.
A fortnight back, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge was sent as an AICC observer to Assam where, after several rounds of discussions with different levels of the party's leadership in the state, he had said that the high command would decide on Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's fate. Like in Maharashtra and Haryana, the Congress did not fare too well in the Lok Sabha polls in Assam either.