Mumbai, March 23 (IANS) An off-the-cuff remark by Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan, in an audio-clip that went viral on Saturday, sparked of speculation whether he was going to quit before the 2019 elections.
The episode pertained to a conversation between Chavan and a party activist from Chandrapur, identifying himself as Rajurkar, seeking to voice resentment and opposition among party workers to nomination of Vinayak Bangade for the Chandrapur Lok Sabha seat.
During the conversation, Chavan is heard saying: "I have also informed the party. Nobody is listening to me. I am also thinking whether to quit."
He suggested Rajurkar raise the issue with central party leader Mukul Wasnik, implying he called the shots on candidature.
"But, Wasnik is a non-entity before you," the caller replied.
Later, when questioned by the media, Chavan - a former Chief Minister - said he had not heard the audio, but denied that he has quit. He also questioned "why a purely private conversation was made public in this manner".
Agreeing that there are certain issues on the nomination announced for Chandrapur, he, however, said, "But, it is our internal matter and I would not prefer to discuss it publicly."
The party also dismissed the speculation of Chavan quitting.
"All these are just mischievous rumours to create confusion. The state party President has not reigned," state spokesperson Sachin Sawant told IANS.
Chavan's quitting rumours gained quick credence coming barely hours after the party legislator from Sillod in Aurangabad, Abdul Sattar, suddenly resigned to contest as an independent candidate for the Lok Sabha, challenging Shiv Sena's Chandrakant Khaire and Congress' Subhash Zambad.
A former minister and two-time legislator, Sattar took pains to maintain that he has "not rebelled, nor harboured any grievances/complaints against anybody in the party", but had quit on his own initiative.
Congress insiders claim that on several occasions, the party has not even taken Chavan into confidence before declaring names of Lok Sabha candidates, even though he is also a sitting MP from Nanded.
In fact, in the run-up to the elections in the past few days, there have been several "incomings" to the Bharatiya Janata Party from both the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
Prominent among them are: Sujay, the son of Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil of the Congress and Ranjitsinh, the son of former Deputy Chief Minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil of the NCP, and others, who have been promptly rewarded with BJP tickets.