Challenge for Rahul Gandhi as Congress battles revolts, desertions
MUMBAI: Revolt erupted in Congress’s backyard in
Maharashtra and Assam when two senior ministers quit the party governments on
Monday opposing their chief ministers.
Sulking senior Congress minister in Maharashtra
Narayan Rane met chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, gave his resignation and
later slammed him for ‘slackness’ in decision-making. He does not want to be a “partner
in defeat” in the assembly elections due later this year, he said.
Similarly, another senior Congress minister in the
Assam government Himanta Biswas Sarma met the state Governor and submitted his
resignation. He claimed he met the governor along with 38 MLAs and expressed no
confidence in the chief minister. Assam goes to polls in less than two years.
Meanwhile, in West Bengal three Congress MLAs quit the
party to join the ruling Trinamool and in Jammu & Kashmir two-time party MP
quit the party alleging senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad of interfering in the
working of party’s state unit.
Coming two months after Congress debacle in the Lok
Sabha elections, the developments have raised questions on the strategy the
Congress high command and Rahul Gandhi propose to adopt to stem dissidence. Congress
leaders in Delhi, however, ruled out suggestions that revolt in Maharashtra and
Assam by state leaders was against the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.
Both Rane and Sarma had resigned once earlier recently
but were persuaded to withdraw it. Sarma said this time he would not withdraw
the resignation and made it clear that he would not contest elections under
Addressing a news conference after submitting his
resignation, Rane, a bitter critic of Chavan and an influential leader from
Konkan region, mounted a scathing attack on the chief minister, accusing him of
slow decision-making and lack of control over administration.
“Decisions relating to the people’s works are not
taken quickly. There is no control over administration. The slow administration
affects people’s work and dissatisfaction was manifest in Lok Sabha polls,”
Rane said, adding, “I don’t want to be a partner in the defeat in the assembly
polls and that’s why I have quit.”
Rane, an aspirant for CM’s post for long, also
expressed his displeasure with Congress’ central leadership. “I was told I will
be made CM in six months. But in nine years the promise has not been kept,”
Rane, who has been publicly claiming he was assured of chief minister's post
when he quit Shiv Sena to join Congress in 2005, said.
“Not a single associate who came with me to Congress
was made legislator,” Rane, a former Shiv Sena chief minister, said. He,
however, said he would not leave the Congress. “The CM has informed me he will
speak to Sonia Gandhi and revert to me. I will announce my next move after
that,” he said.
In Guwahati, education minister Sarma and a group of
party MLAs opposed chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s leadership. “I have submitted
my resignation as minister to the governor (JB Patnaik) as I have protested
Gogoi’s leadership,” he told reporters after putting in his papers at the Raj
“About 38 MLAs went with me to the Raj Bhavan but it
was my private journey. I have no confidence in Tarun Gogoi's leadership. We
are fighting for our party and under Gogoi’s leadership Congress will come down
to single digit in 2016,” he said.
“Absolute madness prevails and there is no direction
under Gogoi. Continuing under Tarun Gogoi is not feasible politically, mentally
and physically. It is not advisable. That is why I decided to resign. I will
also send my resignation to the chief minister,” he added.
To a query, Sarma said as of now there is no threat to
the Gogoi government. “We do not want to topple the government.” He said the
governor had been informed that all the 38 MLAs who went with him will play the
role of a “constructive opposition” in the assembly.