Narayan Rane quits Maharashtra cabinet, attacks Prithviraj Chavan’s leadership

Mumbai, July 21 : Disgruntled Maharashtra Industry Minister Narayan Rane Monday quit the cabinet and launched a scathing attack on the state Congress leadership, accusing Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan of delays in decision-making which had left the people resentful. Quitting the post for the second time in two months since the Lok Sabha elections, Rane declared that he was not happy with the Congress, but asserted that he has no plans to quit the party which he joined in 2005 after quitting the Shiv Sena.

Reacting to the development, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said that he would speak with Rane and attempt to resolve his grievances, while Bharatiya Janata Party‘s Maharashtra chief Devendra Fadnavis said they had received no proposal from Rane to join the party yet but in case he did, would consult ally Shiv Sena before taking a decision.  Rane said the party had not kept its promises to him. ”I am unhappy with the Congress. When I joined the party, I was promised the post of chief minister within six months. I waited for nine years… the party has not kept its promise,” he said.

He alleged Chavan of “slow decision-making” and unable to exercise control over the state administration which had affected work for the people. ”Decisions pertaining to peoples’ works are not taken expeditiously… there is no control over the administration and this resentment was reflected in the results of the Lok Sabha elections,” Rane said. Despite this scenario, he said the party has decided to face the ensuing assembly elections and a good performance in which would be an uphill task. “I don’t want to be a party to the defeat in the forthcoming elections, so I have quit.”

Referring to seven of his staunch supporters in Thane who quit last Saturday and joined Shiv Sena, he said that they must have been assured they would be fielded in assembly elections. ”In my case, I could not get seats for any of my associates. My people did not get justice,” he remarked bitterly. He said that Chavan has promised to speak with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and revert to him. “I shall announce my next steps after that,” he said.

Rane added that Chavan asked him not to quit as the party needed his services but he said he did not wish to continue in the ministry any longer. Asked whether he would float a new party, Rane replied in the negative and added that son’s Swabhiman Sanghatana was a NGO and not a political party. A strongman from the coastal Konkan region, Rane was chief minister for nearly a year at the fag end of the Shiv Sena-BJP regime of 1995-1999.

After joining the Congress, Rane has never played down his abilities or ambitions to become the chief minister again and made several attempts in the past to bag the coveted post. Known to be a strong opponent of Chavan, he has made several attempts for a leadership change in the state, especially in the last two months.  On May 16, Rane had quit as minister after his son and sitting Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg MP Nitesh Rane lost to Shiv Sena’s Vinayak Raut in the Lok Sabha elections following a revolt by a section of ally Nationalist Congress Party workers there. His resignation was however rejected.