The Congress has hinted that former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan would be its lead campaigner, especially in the state's Marathwada region in the coming Lok Sabha polls, despite his being tainted in the Adarsh cooperative housing society scam.
"Chavan, who comes from the all-powerful Maratha community, can fill up the vaccum created in Marathwada after the death of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in August 2012. Marathas and Muslims will have an upper hand in six of the eight parliamentary constituencies in Marathwada. In addition, members of Other Backward Castes would be instrumental in turning the tide in the Congress' favour," a former minister in Chavan’s Cabinet told Business Standard.
Further, Chavan supporters believe that he would succeed in mobilising traditional supporters and thereby brighten the Congress’ prospects.
They argue that Chavan’s rehabilitation is a must especially when the Bharatiya Janata Party has nominated former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa from the Shimoga seat.
Chavan, who was the architect of the party's stunning performance in the 2009 Lok Sabha and assembly elections, had resigned in November 2010 in the wake of the expose in the Adarsh scam.
Recently, he broke his silence and alleged that his detractors in the party were bent on tarnishing his image.
He vowed to not relent but continue in consolidating his presence within and outside the party.
Congress party leaders in Delhi and Maharashtra have stepped up efforts to field Chavan from Nanded, which is his home district.
During the 2009 polls, Chavan’s brother-in-law and former minister of state Bhaskar Khatgaonkar won the Nanded seat, defeating his immediate rival from the BJP.
However, the party has yet to take a call as it has not announced Chavan’s candidature while releasing the first list of 13 nominees in Maharashtra.
Chavan’s presence on the dias with Vice President Rahul Gandhi last week at the party rally in Aurangabad surprised his detractors. However, the party down played it.
Subsequently, during his informal interaction with select media representatives in Mumbai last week, Rahul skipped questions in this regard, passing it on to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.