Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar
Mumbai: In what may lead to a severe churning in Maharashtra politics, Narayan Rane announced on Thursday that he will quit as Industries Minister in the Prithviraj Chavan cabinet.
The Konkan strongman said that he will quit as minister by Monday (July 21) but will remain in the Congress party. Rane had joined the Congress after he quit the Shiv Sena in 2005.
However, the fact remains that Rane has been at loggerheads with the state Congress leadership for a while now and has criticized its style of functioning.
The matter turned for the worse after his son Nilesh lost from Ratnagiri- Sindhudurg Lok Sabha seat to Shiv Sena. Rane feels that Congress` alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) conspired to ensure his son`s defeat.
With the Congress managing to win just two of the 27 seats it contested provided more ammunition to him against the party leadership. During the campaign, Rane had lamented that Congress had not utilised his services properly.
He had tendered his resignation from the Cabinet on the day results were declared but Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan turned it down.
Also, reports had claimed that Rane had expected to replace Chavan as the chief minister following the poll loss but the Congress high command decided against replacing the incumbent chief minister just months before the state goes to polls.
Though Rane has said that he will not quit the Congress, reports had earlier claimed that Rane is in touch with the BJP. After the untimely demise of Gopinath Munde, a mass leader form the backward community, the BJP is said to be on the lookout for a strong Maratha face in the state.
Rane fits the bill but it remains to be seen whether he would return to the other side of the political divide in the state. The BJP would also have to take old partner Shiv Sena, making matters more complicated for the former Shiv Sainiks return to the saffron fold.
Rane was inducted as minister in the Vilasrao Deshmukh government soon after he joined the Congress in 2005. Reports had suggested that Rane had joined the Congress on the understanding that he would be given a shot at the top job. However, the Congress had other ideas and made it clear that his entry into the party was without any preconditions.
Rane had served as chief minister for nine months while in Shiv Sena in 1999 when the NDA government was at helm in Maharashtra.