Maharashtra Assembly polls: Can Prithviraj Chavan revive Congress?
The upcoming Assembly polls in Maharashtra is going to be a tough fight for the Congress party. The party, which recently ended its 15 years old alliance with NCP in the state, is desperately looking for a win after the washout in the Lok Sabha polls in which it could win only two seats.
Congress is now projecting former state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan as the face of the party and is trying to woo voters by cashing on his clean and non-controversial political image.
The decision to project Chavan as the chief ministerial candidate for the party is not a surprising given his clean image who is focused on development and good governance.
Chavan has had his share of trouble including criticism for, allegedly, having been slow in clearing the files. However, his biggest challenge has been to curb growing rebellion within the party against his leadership.
During his tenure as the chief minister, Chavan had to literally fight a lonely battle to create his space in state politics.
While the break up with NCP may cost the Congress, the fact remains that Chavan as CM remains the only option if both parties decided to reunite after polls.
Chavan is also engaged in a battle of prestige in his home town Karad – Chavan is the Congress candidate from Karad South.
The 68-year-old Congress leader is facing stiff competition from sitting legislator and seven-time MLA Vilaskaka Undalkar, who recently resigned from the Congress protesting the party's decision to name Chavan as the candidate for the constituency.
NCP was quick to support Undalkar, who is contesting as an independent.
Other candidates in the fray are Atul Bhosale, a Congress rebel who was poached by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Ajeenkya Patil, son of Bihar governor DY Patil.
Chavan hopes that the Rs 300 crore that was spent on development works in Karad during his tenure will be enough to ensure that he will sail home safe.
Chavan was born in Indore, Madhya Pradesh in a political family. Both his parents are members of the Parliament from Karad.
His father, late DR Chavan, was a minister in the Jawaharlal Nehru cabinet and has been MP for the 17 years while his mother, Premlabai Chavan, was an MP for 16 years from Karad and a central minister.
Chavan holds an engineering degree from BITS Pilani, Rajasthan and went on to complete his Masters from Berkley University.
He started his political career after he was elected as an MP of Karad for the first time in 1991, before moving to the Rajya Sabha in 2002.
Prior to taking over CM, Chavan had served as a minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet.
The upcoming polls is crucial for Chavan's future in state politics. If manages to stop the 'Modi wave', he will emerge as the undisputed leader of the Congress, if he fails, Delhi politics could be his next occupation.