After Baba Siddiqui quitting the party, former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan also resigned from the Congress on Monday, in yet another setback to the party’s Maharashtra unit months before the Lok Sabha elections and state polls.
Reports indicated that Ashok Chavan might join the Bharatiya Janata Party.
According to party sources, three Congress MLAs–Subhash Dhote, Jitesh Antarpurkar and Amar Rajurkar–are likely to follow Ashok Chavan’s lead.
Ashok Chavan has written to Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Pataole declaring his resignation. Earlier on Monday morning, Chavan met Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar.
“Today i.e. on Monday, February 12, 2024, I have tendered my resignation as Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from 85-Bhokar Assembly Constituency to the Assembly Speaker Rahulji Narvekar,” said Ashok Chavan in a post on X (formally Twitter).
Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said, “Several leaders of the Opposition want to join the BJP. Many Congress leaders are in touch with us because they feel suffocated in their party.”
Ashokrao Shankarrao Chavan, 65, hails from Nanded district in Marathwada region. His father late Shankarrao Chavan was also the chief minister of Maharashtra. Ashok Chavan stepped down as chief minister in 2010 for his alleged involvement in Adarsh housing scam in Mumbai. He was also state Congress chief between 2014 and 2019.
Earlier, another senior Maharashtra leader of the Congress, Milind Deora had left the party, only to join hands with Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena. Baba Siddiqui, meanwhile, has joined the Ajit Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Baba Siddiqui’s son, Zeeshan, serving MLA from Bandra East, and is likely to follow his father.
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule claimed, “There is discord in Maharashtra Congress, Ashok Chavan has resigned, and there are internal fights in the Congress. There is no leader, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is abusing the OBC community, that is why no one wants to stay with them, and that is why people are leaving. Yes, if anyone wants to join the BJP then they are welcome.”
Baba Siddique said he had consulted his son Zeeshan Siddique and former Congress MP Priya Dutt before crossing over to the NCP. A prominent Muslim face of Mumbai Congress, Siddique had also served as a minister when the Congress-NCP coalition was in power in Maharashtra.
The NCP, led by Ajit Pawar, is a constituent of the Shiv Sena-led Mahayuti government, also comprising the BJP.
The Siddique senior last week declared his decision to end his 48-year-old association with the Grand Old Party.
“I joined the Indian National Congress party as a young teenager and it has been a significant journey lasting 48 years. Today I resign from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress Party @INCIndia with immediate effect,” he stated.
During the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, Baba Siddique earned much praise for arranging highly sought-after medicines for needy patients. The senior politician is also known for organising grand ‘Iftar’ parties which are attended by top Bollywood stars, including Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan.