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Ashok Chakra to keep spinning

Updated on: 19 February,2024 06:50 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

Super-skilled in working his way up, the Maratha ex-CM may soon become both a boon and bane in the BJP

Ashok Chakra to keep spinning

Dy CM Devendra Fadnavis and state BJP President Chandrashekhar Bawankule welcome Ashok Chavan into the party fold. File pic

Dharmendra JoreAshok Chavan’s exit from the Congress was a foregone conclusion for Congress leaders. State president Nana Patole must be relieved now as he will have one very powerful intra-party rival less in combat. Chavan and Patole have been in a cold war ever since the latter’s appointment. It is being said in party circles that Chavan’s shrewd ways, likened to those of a ‘silent assassin’, did not really allow Patole to settle down in the hot seat. They say Chavan did help the Congress but walked away with all the credit leaving Patole looking like a less accomplished state chief. Henceforth, Patole can preserve the energy he had been expending on his internal feud with Chavan. He can invest more energy instead on what he has been tasked with by the high command. But then, Patole has a few more rivals within the Congress to deal with. Patole, a leader sans charisma, has been riding on the ‘hyperbole’ approach. His ‘USP’, albeit outdated now, is that he had confronted Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the BJP MPs’ meeting. 

As far as defections are concerned, neither Patole nor the high command will be able to prevent leaders from leaving the party ahead of the elections. The defectors’ hot destination, the BJP, will cherry-pick, and leave the politically inconvenient people for its allies, the Shinde Sena and NCP (Ajit Pawar). Chavan’s followers are in line. Some others may not necessarily be associated with the ex-CM.

Skills rivals fear 

Now, over to Chavan’s new role in a new party. Among all the seasoned politicians who have joined the BJP since 2013, the Nanded-based leader was a high-value catch. He is ex-CM, the second after Narayan Rane to switch sides. He was rewarded immediately with a Rajya Sabha seat and pronounced a national level leader despite being a fresher. And it may worry the BJP’s indigenous lot that fears that their careers are under threat because of the ‘aayarams’. Ambitious leaders of the Maharashtra BJP are alarmed, because they have known Chavan for his superior skills in working his way up. They say he is a charmer when it comes to serving and obeying the high command. 

In the winter of 2008, Chavan’s elevation to the CM’s chair post the 26/11 terror attacks had cost some very senior Congress leaders their thriving careers. Rane had been confident of replacing Vilasrao Deshmukh, but when he was denied the CM’s post, he revolted against the Congress high command. He was pardoned soon, only to be placed in Chavan’s cabinet as an in-charge of a second-rate department. This month again, Rane was at a loss because of Chavan. Call it a coincidence or the resumption of an old political rivalry. People recall that a leader of high stature who had played mentor to Chavan (because Chavan’s ex-CM father had shaped his career), soon realised that his mentee had mastered the art of politics and did not shy away from cutting his mentor to size with remarkable efficiency and urgency.

Fall and rise

When it was predicted that Chavan was to stay at the top for a longer period with a grand success in the 2009 polls, his stint came to a humiliating end a year into his second term. The Adarsh housing scam that interested his rivals within the party more than the Opposition had claimed his scalp. Thirteen winters later, the Adarsh case came to haunt him again when the NDA government’s ‘white paper on the UPA regime’ was tabled in Parliament recently. The whitepaper’s mention of the Adarsh scam was linked with Chavan’s immediate exit just the way the PM’s statement about the irrigation scam was linked with Ajit Pawar’s induction in the Shinde-Fadnavis government. Don’t be surprised if Chavan gets into the Modi.03 cabinet in the coming summer. His induction is a value-addition to the BJP’s Maratha collection, which may soon be as powerful as the Congress and NCP of yesteryear. However, the Maratha imports lacked a politician who is a value pack of suave, smart and shrewd. Chavan is the all-in-one the BJP had been eyeing for long. 

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore

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