The 65-year-old also submitted his resignation as an MLA to Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar.
“When friends and colleagues leave a political party that has given them much – perhaps much more (than) they deserved – it is always a matter of anguish,” Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said without naming Chavan.
“But to those who are vulnerable, THAT Washing Machine will always prove more attractive than ideological commitment or personal loyalties,” he said in a post on X.
“These betrayers don’t realise that their exit opens up vast new opportunities to those whose growth they have always stunted,” Ramesh said.
Asked about Chavan leaving the party, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said it is difficult these days to do politics while staying in the opposition. “It is very difficult to look the government in the eye and tell them that the white paper that they have brought is nothing but a fake document. “Some are pressured by probe agencies, some lured with inducements. Those who have left the party in the last few days – look at the Enforcement Directorate cases against them, the picture will be clear to you,” she said.
Only those leaders can do politics being part of the opposition who have the courage to fight, and Rahul Gandhi is doing that by standing with truth, Shrinate said.
“There would be some pressure on the ones who are going, I think there is pressure of agencies. The washing machine is working,” she said.
The development comes days after senior Maharashtra Congress leaders Baba Siddique and Milind Deora quit the party.
The Congress has witnessed a series of exits in the last few years with the likes of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasad, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Sushmita Dev, RPN Singh, Jaiveer Shergill, among other, joining other parties.
Amid a buzz that Chavan may join the BJP, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters, “Aagey aagey dekho hota hai kya (wait and watch)”.
Chavan hails from Nanded district in Marathwada region. His father, the late Shankarrao Chavan, was also the chief minister of Maharashtra. Ashok Chavan stepped down as chief minister in 2010 following allegations of involvement in the Adarsh housing scam in Mumbai. He was also state Congress chief during 2014-19.
Congress leader Manickam Tagore tagged Chavan’s post on quitting the party and shared a video clip of the movie ‘Sholay’ in which the antagonist delivers the iconic dialogue “jo dar gaya samjho mar gaya”.
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