As soon as the reports that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is being replaced started circulating, aspirants too started jumping into the hot race to grab the coveted post. Maharashtra would be witnessing Assembly elections within 3-4 months. And after suffering a humiliating defeat in Lok Sabha elections, Congress high command started mulling replacement of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in order to recover the lost ground. The move has now triggered a wrestling among the aspirants to be at the helm and for the first time, Dalit leader Mukul Wasnik has thrown his hat in the ring. In fact, Wasnik, who contested the Lok Sabha poll from Ramtek seat but lost, has laid a siege in Delhi and leaving no stone unturned to convince the Congress high command on his claim.
The past few months have seen a leader or two of other political parties announcing candidature for the Chief Minister’s post preposterously thinking victory for their parties in the Assembly elections. (Shiv Sena’s Udhhav Thackeray and MNS’ Raj Thackeray have staked claim for CM’s post if their parties record handsome wins). Now, Wasnik, instead of accepting defeat in the Lok Sabha poll humbly, taking the advantage of current situation and giving an impetus to his sagging political career. The Chief Minister’s post would definitely suffice his ambitions, thinks the Dalit leader. Apart from Udhhav and Raj Thackeray who have made their intentions clear, others who are likely in the race for CM’s post include NCP’s Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule, RPI-A’s Ramdas Athawale, BJP’s Nitin Gadkari and Devendra Fadnavis and many others.
However, Congress high command’s line of thinking is somewhat different, if media reports are to be believed. The party is reportedly working on names of Ashok Chavan, Narayan Rane, Patangrao Kadam and even Sushilkumar Shinde. Some of these leaders have been active for the past 1 or two years and waiting for an opportunity to displace Prithviraj Chavan. But this time, Mukul Wasnik has also reportedly thrown his hat in the ring and is camping in Delhi with Dalit card, according to sources.
According to sources, this is for the first time that a Congress leader has opened his cards and staked claim for Chief Minister’s post even before the elections. Close associates of Wasnik have said that the leader has opened a front in Delhi and playing his every move strategically. Wasnik’s first potent move is to seek Assembly poll tickets to his 25-30 close aides from winnable seats as their victory could play an important role in staking claim for the top post and subsequently putting him in the saddle. The seats include 4 seats of Nagpur District. If Congress bags more seats than NCP, the Chief Minister would of Congress and would be nominated by Delhi order. In this case, Wasnik is hoping that his name could be tossed by Congress leadership and his efforts are targeted in the same direction.
In Ramtek, the political atmosphere post-Lok Sabha poll has seen dramatic change. The aspirants for Assembly poll ticket for Ramtek seat, in a veiled warning, have said that only local candidate should be fielded from the constituency. No other candidate than Sunil Kedar would be tolerated is the line of the warning. Other young candidates who are in the line include Gajju Yadav, Prashant Madhukar Kimmatkar, Mahesh Anandrao Mahajan, Naresh Barve, Chandrapal Chaukse, and Amol Ranjit Deshmukh. Now, it would be interesting to see which card Wasnik plays in selecting the candidate who could be also helpful in his avid ambition to grab Chief Minister’s post.