Mumbai: The exit of former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan from the Congress triggered strong reactions from the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance on Monday.
In a strong attack, Shiv Sena-UBT President and former CM Uddhav Thackeray said first the Bharatiya Janata Party broke up the Shiv Sena, then the Nationalist Congress Party, now the Congress.
“The BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi make claims of 400-plus (in 2024 Lok Sabha polls), but this proves they have no confidence of even going 40-plus, that’s why they are taking people from all other parties. Now so many people from Congress are in the BJP that after a few years, a BJP President may be an ex-Congressman,” he said.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar hinted at Chavan facing some probe that may have prompted him to quit the party.
“We have been hearing that some investigators were after him, but nothing more developed later… He would know…” the Congress leader said, admitting that it was a shocking setback for the party, while strongly refuting BJP’s claims that he (Wadettiwar) would be next to quit the Congress.
Nationalist Congress Party-SP MLA Rohit R. Pawar lamented that when there is a real need to fight for ideology today, senior leaders abandoning their ideology for which they fought all their lives to join the BJP is unfortunate.
“Since the sessions of alliance with BJP will continue, the next battle for identity and ideology will have to be fought by the common masses, and the people are ready for it,” he said.
Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) President Prakash Ambedkar said that “the BJP can break any number of parties or leaders, but Maharashtra will defeat it in the next elections. The Marathi voter doesn’t approve of the BJP now”.
In a jibe, SS-UBT’s MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said that the Adarsh Society scam, the MSC Bank scam or the Maharashtra Sadan scam are no more scams as those ‘scamsters’ are now part of the BJP. “It isn’t a Congress-Mukt Bharat, but a ‘Congress-Yukt BJP’… The ‘khichdi’ cooked in Maharashtra will give stomach poisoning to those cooking and eating it, a matter of time,” she claimed.
Shiv Sena-UBT Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut said it was unbelievable that Ashok Chavan, who till yesterday was together and holding discussions with the MVA, is gone today.
“Like Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar, will Chavan also claim the Congress now and get the ‘Hand’ symbol? Will the Election Commission of India oblige? Anything can happen in this country now,” he wondered.
Congress’ ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan said Chavan’s departure was a big blow to the party, but assured that “no other leaders or legislators” have left. “We are in touch with all our people… So far, we have not heard of any such plans, as claimed,” he contended.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Atul Londhe said: “We don’t have frontal organisations like the ED, CBI, ITD to ‘coordinate’ with senior leaders… But in the upcoming Lok Sabha, the people will teach the BJP a lesson.”
VBA’s chief spokesperson Siddharth Mokle said that “the leaders who maligned the VBA as the BJP’s B-Team have now themselves become the BJP’s A-Team!”
Others who reacted included Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat, SS-UBT’s Leader of Opposition in the Council) Ambadas Dave, NCP-SP’s national spokesperson Clyde Crasto, ruling Shiv Sena’s Ramdas Kadam.
On the other hand, BJP’s state President Chandrashekhar Bawankule said that “anybody who accepts our ideology is welcome to join us”, and said many leaders from all over the state will soon troop into the party.
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, in a telling comment, quipped: “Aage aage dekho, hota hai kya (wait and watch what happens ahead).” Other BJP leaders claimed that over a dozen Congress MLAs are likely to switch sides in the coming days, but Ashok Chavan denied all such contentions, stating that he has not spoke to any leader.