Mumbai, February 13:  In a vicious broadside, a livid Maharashtra Congress labelled former Chief Minister Ashok S. Chavan as “a coward and back-stabber who ran away from the field” – hours after he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), here on Tuesday. AICC General Secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, Ramesh Chennithala, state Congress President Nana Patole, Congress Legislative Party leader Balasaheb Thorat and leader of opposition (Assembly) Vijay Wadettiwar launched a no-holds barred attack on Chavan, who abruptly quit the grand old party on Monday, severing all links after over 38 years.

“The Congress gave him everything… MLA, MP, state President, Minister, CM -- always an opportunity to lead the party. Till yesterday, he was with the Congress and then suddenly left to join the BJP. He is a coward who back-stabbed us and ran away from the field,” Chennithala said. He wondered whether the Congress had done any ‘injustice’ to the former two-time CM or if he was “scared of the ED and CBI”, claiming the people will give a befitting reply to him, even as the party kept the door ajar for Chavan. Ex-Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan Joins BJP; Says It's His New Journey in Political Life

Speaking to the media after a party meeting, Chennithala said that though Chavan has deserted the party, “no other leaders would leave the Congress”. “The resignation of just one person will not weaken the Congress… The party works as per an ideology. The masses do not accept those who abandon the party and the ideology. The Congress will work even more vigorously to win the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections,” declared Chennithala.

He pointed out that the BJP had hurled corruption allegations against Chavan, even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused him in the Adarsh Society scam, but “today he has gone there and has been washed clean by the BJP”. Similar was the case with ruling ally Nationalist Congress Party President and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, whom the Prime Minister had accused of corruption of Rs 70,000 crore in the irrigation scam, Chennithala added. He reiterated that the BJP is trying to weaken the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), but it will not succeed, as the Opposition alliance will bag maximum Lok Sabha seats (of total 48) in Maharashtra.

Patole said the Congress always gave big responsibilities to Chavan, which he cannot expect in the BJP where he will have to sit in the back benches. “Even BJP’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis is worried as their own surveys indicate that the party will not perform well in the state. So they are trying to save their face and the party’s reputation by such tactics, but nothing will help them,” said Patole. Thorat rued how Chavan changed tracks to join the BJP when the farmers are under attack on the borders of Delhi, claiming that “either it was due to some pressures or selfish motives”, but the people are watching everything. Ashok Chavan’s Slip of Tongue Draws Laughter at Maharashtra BJP Headquarters (Watch Video)

Averring that the ‘skies have not fallen’, Wadettiwar said Chavan has shot himself in the foot by joining the BJP as the people are disgusted by its politics and will teach them a lesson in the next elections, as the party workers are still with the Congress. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Congress has convened a meeting of all party MLAs on February 15, followed by a two-day camp in Lonavala on February 16-17.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chennithala addressed a meeting attended by Maharashtra Congress' top brass, including ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan, Goa in-charge Manikrao Thakre, Satej alias Bunty Patil, working presidents M. Arif Naseem Khan and Chandrakant Handore, Mumbai party chief Varsha Gaikwad, tribal cell chief Shivajirao Moghe, ex-

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 13, 2024 07:51 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website