A bitter Narayan Rane attacks Congress, but won’t quit party (Lead)

December 5th, 2008 - 7:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyMumbai, Dec 5 (IANS) A bitter Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane criticised the state Congress party Friday evening after losing out in the race for the chief minister’s post.Rane, whose name was being considered for the top post after Vilasrao Deshmukh resigned Wednesday in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, opted out of the race after the party leadership selected state Industry Minister Ashok Chavan for the top job.

Rane, addressing a hurriedly convened media conference at his residence, claimed he was not quitting the Congress party.

He directly accused outgoing chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh of “manipulations” along with state party chief Manikrao Thakre and city party chief Kripa Shankar Singh to put forward Ashok Chavan’s candidature.

Rane termed Chavan as “not qualified” for the top post.

In the capital, the Congress promptly said that Rane had violated party discipline and action would be initiated against him. Rane retorted that he was not scared about the prospect of any action by the party.

He also described as a “farce” the six-hour marathon meeting with legislators in Mumbai Thursday by two central party observers Pranab Mukherjee and A.K. Antony.

“The legislators were told that if they wanted party tickets for the next assembly elections, they should give Chavan’s name. Yet between 40-45 legislators proposed my name. This is the reason why the party could not announce the name last night,” Rane claimed.

He said that instead of conducting this “farcical exercise”, the party should have immediately “announced my name as chief minister”.

A former chief minister in the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government in 1999, Rane said the state was facing a serious situation as people were still in fear after the terror attacks and there was a vaccuum in the state leadership.

Training his guns on Vilasrao Deshmukh, Rane said, “He is directly responsible for the deaths of 172 innocents and hundreds injured.”

Rane quit the Shiv Sena in 2005 after differences with the party leadership, and joined the Congress.

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