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Narayan Rane quits Congress, will decide his next move ‘before Dussehra’

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-09-2017 Abhiram Ghadyalpatil

Mumbai: The Congress in Maharashtra received a setback on Thursday when senior leader and former chief minister Narayan Rane quit the party and also resigned from his Maharashtra legislative council seat.

Rane’s elder son and former Congress MP Nilesh Rane also quit the Congress along with several supporters of Rane in Sindhudurg district of Konkan region. However, Rane’s younger son and legislator Nitesh continues to be in the Congress and he stayed away from Rane’s press conference at Kudal in Konkan. Rane said Nitesh would take a decision at an “appropriate time”.

Rane, who quit the Shiv Sena in 2005 over his differences with Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, said he would decide his next political move before Dussehra on 30 September. He said he would start his Maharashtra tour from 22 September from Nagpur and show Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan “who the people in Maharashtra supported even though Chavan was president”. He refused to answer questions on whether he was joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He also denied that he had met BJP president Amit Shah in Ahmedabad in April this year along with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Declaring that the Congress in Maharashtra was “finished”, Rane claimed he was promised the chief minister’s post in Maharashtra three times by the Congress leadership including by party president Sonia Gandhi. “I was promised the chief minister’s post by Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, Pranabda (Pranab Mukherjee), Digvijay Singh, and Margaret Alva on three separate occasions. The Congress ditched me on all three occasions. In 2008, when Congress decided to drop Vilasrao Deshmukh, 48 legislators voted for me in an internal poll and 32 voted for Ashok Chavan. Yet Chavan was made the chief minister,” he said. He claimed that when he joined the Congress in 2005, he was promised the chief minister’s post within six months.

Charging the Congress leadership, especially Maharashtra Congress leaders including Chavan, with “systematically insulting him all his 12 years in the party”, Rane said the Congress somehow followed a tradition to humiliate popular and credible leaders. “Prithviraj Chavan was never in the reckoning to become the chief minister in the first place. But when he did become the CM in 2010, he told me that I could pick the portfolio I wanted. I asked him to let me continue as revenue minister. Yet, he took away the revenue portfolio from me and gave me industries. This was insulting,” he said.

He said he had no personal animosity towards state Congress chief Ashok Chavan but only felt that Chavan was not “fit to be the MPCC chief”. “The Congress has no existence in and outside Maharashtra legislature. A large number of Congress workers and 25 councillors from Solapur, Kolhapur, and Nashik have already left the Congress with me and more will follow in the days to come,” Rane said.

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