Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Tuesday made it clear that he would not step down. Chavan has already accepted moral responsibility for the defeat in Lok Sabha elections in the state, while leaving it to the party’s central leadership to decide his fate.
In his first detailed interaction with the media after the poll results, Chavan also took a jibe at those lobbying for a change of guard in the state. Admitting that some people in the party had launched a “whisper campaign” for his ouster, the CM said such campaigns won’t sway the high command’s decision.
Hitting out at those nursing ambitions to dislodge him from the top post, he said: “Even such campaigns are usually taken note of by the party’s leadership.”
Chavan was replying to a question on whether he was disconcerted by the campaign for his ouster at a time the state unit of the party was faced with the task of rebuilding the organisation after the poll debacle. “Some people do such things. It is unfortunate,” he said.
Explaining his rationale behind deciding against stepping down, Chavan said he did not intend to do anything that would put the party’s leadership under pressure. “Any direction on restructuring or realignment has to come from Delhi,” he said.
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“There is frustration all around regarding the margin of defeat,” Chavan said, while replying to the question on what he felt was the reason for the campaign against him. He, however, conceded that there was a need to “further speed up and streamline” decision making in the state.
“There is a need for introspection,” he said.
Claiming that the party was still analysing reasons behind the debacle, Chavan said the poll verdict was either an anger expressed against the Central government or the Congress.
With four months to go for the Assembly polls, he said the party faced a “big challenge” in reviving its fortunes in the state. “We need to learn from our mistake. There was anger of the voters, coupled with allegations of corruption. The corporate sector too was unhappy due to the slow pace of decision making, issues concerning mining, retrograde taxation and environmental hurdles, among other things,” said Chavan.
He agreed that the party’s campaign in the state was hit with several leaders tied up with campaigns in their home constituencies. Chavan said in his view more than the Modi factor it was the voters’ anger that reflected in the crushing defeat. “If the Modi factor was predominant, why did it not work much in states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal?” Chavan reasoned.
While claiming that the elections were not fought on development issue, he said the party had failed to match up to Narendra Modi’s high pitch election and media campaign. Chavan further conceded that a clear majority could give Modi government the advantage, as it could lead to faster decision making.
Chavan writes to EC to relax norms
Concerned that the code of conduct that would kick in for the biennial Legislative Council polls for five graduates and teachers constituencies in July would create hurdles before the state cabinet in decision making, Chavan has written to the Election Commission, urging it to “limit applicability of the code to the constituencies where the polls are to be held”.
The code of conduct will kick in during the first week of June.
With four months left for Assembly polls, the government is concerned that this would come in the way of its plan to shower people-friendly decisions.