Knives are out for Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan who is facing the heat over the controversial Adarsh Housing Society row with his detractors lobbying hard for his removal.
Chavan,who is in a power struggle with rivals such as Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and sate Revenue Minister Narayan Rane,visited New Delhi on Saturday and offered his resignation to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
A senior Congress leader in Mumbai said Chavan,who took over from Deshmukh after he stepped down in the wake of the 26/11 attacks,was already fighting a factional war over the last few months. They were on the lookout for an opportunity,which they got this time, he said,referring to Chavans rivals.
Congress workers were also bitter that the party had not taken any action over a string of allegations involving leaders such as Chavan,Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi,MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre and Mumbai Congress President Kripashanker Singh.
The leader said Deshmukh,who has made up with former rival Rane,was trying to return to state politics.
The Deshmukh and Chavan camps have been at loggerheads for a few months. Deshmukh confidant and MLC Ulhas Pawar had raised the issue of why no action was taken against dissidents such as Shalinitai Vikhe,wife of Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe,who had secured office after rebelling against the official nominee.
Shalinitai had defeated Congress nominee Satyajit Tambe,the nephew of Agriculture Minister Balasaheb Thorat,a Deshmukh loyalist,to be elected as Ahmednagar Zilla Parishad president. Deshmukh camp was also livid at no action being taken against Pandit Deshmukh,a supporter of former CM Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar,who defeated Trimbak Bhise to become Zilla Parishad president in Latur. Bhise belongs to the Deshmukh camp.
Later,Rane and Deshmukh had also teamed up to take pot shots at the state government over the police lodging a case against Rane s son Nitesh for allegedly firing at his associate Chintu Shaikh.
While Chavans detractors claimed he was losing support and was likely to replaced after US president Barack Obamas visit to Mumbai,his supporters argue he was likely to get a breather with the appointment of the committee.
Moreover,sacking Chavan on these grounds would set a precedent that could be applied in case of other elected representatives in the future.
Congressmen pointed out that even leaders from other parties and the opposition had houses in the controversial building and a number of politicians were said to have recommended flats in the society,which would blunt their edge when it comes to criticism against Chavan.
A legislator close to Chavan said after the media coverage of the controversy dies down,the issue too was likely to be given a quiet burial.
However,in case the Congress decides to replace Chavan,names of Deshmukh,Rane and union ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde are doing the rounds as among the probable replacements.