The Congress has appointed former chief minister Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief and former member of Parliament and All India Congress Committee secretary Sanjay Nirupam as head of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee.
Chavan, who had resigned in November 2010 following allegations of his role in the Adarsh housing society scam, was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Nanded seat in 2014 while Nirupam, a former Shiv Sena leader, lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Gopal Shetty in the north Mumbai constituency.
Chavan, who is known for his aggressive style of functioning, was keeping a low profile as he was engaged in the legal battle for his alleged role in the ‘paid news’ case, too. The Congress’ central leadership chose Chavan to lead the party in the state notwithstanding the pending legal cases against him, because he enjoys state-wide support.
Chavan's appointment comes nine months after the incumbent chief Manikrao Thakre had submitted his resignation following Congress’ rout in the Lok Sabha elections. The party managed to won only two Lok Sabha seats including one by Chavan and another by his supporter and a party vice-president Rahul Gandhi's close confidant Rajiv Satav from Hingoli.
The Congress, which contested Assembly elections independently, bagged only 42 seats. Besides, the party was routed in elections held in civic and local bodies.
Chavan told Business Standard: “I have been appointed to lead the party in Maharashtra in a challenging situation. Considering the party's performance in the general and Assembly polls, my responsibility will be to strengthen the party organisation. I am aware a lot needs to be done to strengthen the party.''
He added the Congress would play a role of effective and constructive opposition. “Opposition will be issue-based and not for the sake of opposition. The party will flag off issues pertaining to the people of Maharashtra with the BJP-led government and if it fails to respond, the party will hit the street.”
Nirupam, during his stint in Shiv Sena and also as a Congress MP, had been quite vocal on raising issues relating to power tariff hike and alleged communal politics by the Shiv Sena and the BJP. Nirupam was chosen to lead the city unit especially when the Congress lost all six Lok Sabha seats in the general election and won only five of the total 36 Assembly seats in Greater Mumbai.
Nirupam said he would work hard to regain the confidence of Mumbaikars and rebuild the party organisation. “I will work hard for the party's revival in Greater Mumbai.”