MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane quit the Congress as promised but also threw in a resignation of his seat in the state’s Legislative Council. He is poised to defect to the BJP but, as is the custom, he did not reveal his next step. He said full disclosure will come only after Dasara.
"The Congress didn't keep its promises given to me and insulted me," Rane said to his supporters at Kudal in Sindhudurga district.
"When I joined the Congress in 2005, I was told I would be made chief minister within six months. I was inducted into the state cabinet as revenue minister. Thereafter I was invited to New Delhi at least four times and assured the CM's post, but nothing happened," Rane said.
Rane went onto to list other slights served upon him in the Congress. One was inflicted by then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. He took away the revenue portfolio from Rane and gave him industries.
Similar ‘insults’ came from the present party chief in Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan.
“I waited for 12 years,” said Rane. “But I realized that there was no scope for me in the Congress. Hence I decided to quit the party and membership of the Legislative Council.”
Narayan Rane said he has written a brief letter to Sonia Gandhi informing her of his resignation.
In an hour-long speech, Rane focused his ire primarily at Ashok Chavan and Sonia Gandhi's olitical adviser Ahmed Patel, who he said took him for a ride. He also claimed the support of at least 25 Congress corporators from various municipal corporations.
More importantly, Rane claimed that at least 27 MLAs for the Shiv Sena -- his erstwhile party which made him chief minister once -- are ready to quit the party to join him. "People from both the Congress and Shiv Sena are in touch with me. I'll empty both parties," he said.
Rane said he would start a statewide tour from Nagpur on Friday. "I'll show Ashok Chavan how people flock to me even when I have no post," he said.
As far as his future plans are concerned, the Maratha leader was not forthcoming, stating that an announcement was possible ahead of Dasara, which falls on September 30. However, there has been wide speculation that he has already cosied up to the BJP, which is likely to invite him as a counterweight to its ally, the Shiv Sena.
Conjecture about Rane joining the BJP was triggered by reports suggesting he met BJP president Amit Shah in Ahmedabad a few months ago and during the recent Ganesh festival, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis visited Rane's residence.
Nilesh Rane, his son and former Congress MP, has resigned from the party but not his other son Nitesh, who remains a Congress MLA. "He will quit later, along with many Congress and Shiv Sena legislators," he added.
Rane’s possible entry into the BJP is likely to upset the Shiv Sena, a partner in the Maharashtra government, as it might lose its leverage on chief minister Fadnavis. More than just leverage politics, there’s always been a bit of needle in the relationship between Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Narayan Rane.
When Thackeray was about to be brought into the party by his father Balasaheb, it was Rane who made no secret of his displeasure. He was expelled from the Shiv Sena for airing his opinions out of turn.