Ashok Chavan, Milind Deora and Baba Siddique (File photo)
In a significant blow to the Congress party in Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, a prominent leader, announced his resignation on Monday, February 12, becoming the latest heavyweight to exit the grand old party. The former Chief Minister conveyed his decision in a letter addressed to state Congress president Nana Patole, expressing his decision to quit the party. Simultaneously, Chavan submitted his resignation as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar.
"I hereby submit my resignation from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress Party with effect from 12/02/2024 noon," stated Ashok Chavan in his official statement.
Chavan joins a growing list of influential leaders leaving the Maharashtra Congress, including Milind Deora and Baba Siddique. Milind Deora resigned in January 2024, marking the end of his family's 55-year association with the party. Baba Siddique followed suit on February 8, citing that certain things are best "left unsaid."
While Milind Deora joined the Shiv Sena under the leadership of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Baba Siddique chose to align with the NCP led by Ajit Pawar. The destination for Ashok Chavan's political allegiance remains uncertain at this point.
Why top leaders are quitting Congress in Maharashtra?
Reacting to Ashok Chavan's departure, Congress MLA Prithviraj Chavan expressed his sadness, stating, "Our senior colleague Ashok Chavan has resigned from the party and also as an MLA. It's a sad decision. This was being talked about for a long time. We didn't think he would take this decision."
Prithviraj Chavan further commented on rumors spread by BJP leaders, stating, "BJP leaders spreading rumors that some people are in touch with them."
Reports suggest that Ashok Chavan might consider joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which, according to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, was because of feeling stifled within the Congress. "Several leaders of the opposition want to join the BJP. Many Congress leaders are in touch with us because they feel suffocated in their party," Fadnavis said.
Milind Deora, former Congress MP, dealt a blow to the party as he quit and joined Shiv Sena led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Deora criticized Congress for neglecting merit and targeting industrialists. He embraced the politics of "GAIN" with the Shiv Sena, emphasizing growth, aspiration, inclusivity, and nationalism. Deora expressed his faith in Shinde's leadership and his commitment to strengthen the hands of PM Modi and Amit Shah through Shiv Sena.
Deora's departure stirred controversy, with Congress alleging BJP's orchestration to divert attention from its Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. In a social media post, Deora announced the end of his family's 55-year association with Congress, expressing gratitude for support. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh revealed Deora's concerns about losing the Mumbai South Lok Sabha seat to Shiv Sena in the Maha Vikas Aghadi seat-sharing agreement.
Baba Siddique, a Congress veteran of nearly five decades and former Maharashtra Minister, followed suit by resigning from the party. Announcing his departure on social media, Siddique thanked everyone for the 48-year journey. His move came after the Election Commission recognized the Ajit Pawar faction as the real NCP. Siddique joined the NCP-Ajit Pawar faction two days later.
"There’s a lot I would have liked to express but as they say some things are better left unsaid. I thank everyone who has been a part of this journey,” he said in a post.