With the Congress’ Vishwajeet Kadam losing the Pune Lok Sabha seat — a traditional bastion — to the BJP’s Anil Shirole with a record 3.15 lakh margin, the blame game within the party has assumed gargantuan proportions.
A Congress meeting attended by the city brass — including city president Abhay Chhajed, Deputy President and former mayor Deepak Mankar, MLC Mohan Joshi and Kadam — last morning saw a call go up for Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s resignation. The meeting’s attendees unanimously agreed that the CM must take responsibility for the Congress’ decimation in city and the state — where it won just two seats — and step down.
WASHING DIRTY LINEN: Congress city deputy president Deepak Mankar (left), candidate Vishwajeet Kadam and party city chief Abhay Chhajed (right) addressing a press conference yesterday
Sources said the city brass wanted the CM to follow his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar’s footsteps, who has tendered his resignation accepting moral responsibility for the JD(U)’s poor showing in the state.
Kadam also indirectly pointed a finger at MLA Vinayak Nimhan — a contender for the Pune Lok Sabha seat — for the loss and said action must be taken against those who worked against the party’s interests.
Speaking to mid-day, a belligerent Mankar said he would protest against Chavan the next time he visits Pune and demand his resignation. “In a bid to save his own image, Chavan is maligning the party’s image. The leaders in the party’s city unit have been telling him to look into the problems that we are facing here for a long time, but he has not shown any interest in solving them,” he said.
Kadam said the fact that he failed to reach out to the voters was a cause for his loss but said Chavan also needs to introspect. “The head of the state should introspect in the backdrop of the Congress’ poor performance in the state,” Kadam mentioned.
Without mentioning anyone’s name even after being asked whether he was pointing a finger at Nimhan, Kadam added, “We will demand that action be taken against those party members who did not work in the party’s interest during the Lok Sabha elections.”
Political scholar Prakash Pawar interpreted Kadam’s statement as a demand for the CM’s resignation. “It was nothing but an attempt by Kadam to give an indirect message to the party high command to take action against CM Chavan,” he said.
Pawar, however, did not buy Kadam’s other argument. “Even if we assume that Nimhan did not work properly for the party during the Lok Sabha elections, would he have been able to take the party to victory alone, especially in light of the tremendous Modi wave?”
Interestingly, Nimhan, who is close to CM Chavan, was not present for the party meeting, which was held at Congress Bhavan. Speaking to mid-day, Nimhan said, “I didn’t attend the meeting because I was out of town. As far as my work for the party is concerned, the Congress’ vote share in Shivaji Nagar was higher than in the Kothrud, Parvati and Kasba assembly segments. If anyone is saying I have not worked in the interest of the party, then I wo-uld say that baseless allegations are being levelled against me.” Nimhan is the MLA from the Shivaji Nagar assembly seat.