A day after resigning from Maharashtra Cabinet, disgruntled Congress leader Narayan Rane sought a firm assurance from the party high command that he be anointed leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) in the state. The CLP post, if granted, would boost Rane’s chances to stake claim for either the chief ministership or the post of Leader of the Opposition ) depending on the outcome of upcoming Assembly elections.
While he is upset with the party high command for reneging its promise of making him the chief minister, this demand does not feature in his wishlist. With the model code of conduct conming into force less than a month away, Rane himself conceded that “this was not the time to raise the demand.” “While I am upset with the party leadership for not keeping its assurance of making me the chief minister, I do not see any point in raising this issue with elections around the corner. I believe that the posts come automatically to a person who is competent,” he told The Indian Express.
The Konkan strongman has demanded a prominent role in party’s decision making process for the Assembly polls and that his supporters be provided party tickets. He also wants some of his supporters to be accommodated in government-run statutory boards.
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The party’s high command Tuesday also signalled that it was willing to give in to some of these demands, with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre assuring him of a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a couple of days to discuss the issues. Later in the day, both Chavan and Rane expressed confidence that Rane’s grievances would be resolved and he would continue in the government. On Sonia’s directions, Thakre had met Rane on Monday evening. Following this meeting, Thakre had told The Indian Express that “Rane would be assigned a more significant role in both the party and the government.”
Rane said that he had raised the point that “the party was yet to clearly spell out its Assembly poll programme.” Sources said that this was aimed at staking a claim for the post of election committee head. After arguing that an election defeat under Chavan’s leadership was imminent, Rane, following his meeting with Chavan, said that “it was possible for the party to restore confidence among people if some decisions in public interest were taken on priority basis.”