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|October 16, 1999||
Vilas Deshmukh to be Maharashtra's new chief minister
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Bombay
The ten-day political stalemate in Maharashtra ended today when the Nationalist Congress Party decided to join the Congress in forming a government headed by Vilas Deshmukh.
Leaders of both parties called on Governor P C Alexander as scheduled at 1930 IST and submitted a list of the members of the legislative assembly supporting them.
The meeting lasted 45 minutes, following which Dr Alexander told the press that he had invited Congress Legislature Party leader Vilas Deshmukh to form the government.
Deshmukh will be sworn in on Monday morning.
The chief minister-designate said he was "grateful to the people of Maharashtra who have elected a secular government. And I will try my best to resolve the problems of the state."
The Congress leaders who called on the governor were state unit president Pratap Bhosale, Ranjit Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Vilas Deshmukh. They were joined by NCP leaders Chhagan Bhujbal, Padamsinh Patil and Vijaysinh Mohite Patil and RPI (Athavale) chief Ramdas Athavale.
Interestingly, former Union minister and Congress politician Suresh Kalmadi was absent from the Raj Bhawan in Bombay.
The key issue of who the speaker will be is, however, yet to be resolved. Both Deshmukh and Bhujbal evaded questions on the subject and said it would be resolved tomorrow by a panel of senior leaders of both parties.
The candidate for deputy chief ministership, which will go to the NCP, will also be decided tomorrow.
In the 288-member assembly, the Congress has 75 seats and the NCP 58, for a combined tally of 133. But they have claimed the support of 151 MLAs.
The parties supporting them are: the Janata Dal-Secular (2 MLAs), Samajwadi Party (2), Peasants and Workers Party (5), RPI-Ambedkar (2). Along with some independents, the tally adds up to 151.
Earlier, the BJP-Sena too staked its claim to form the government and submitted a list of 136 MLAs supporting them. Moreover, they said, four independents had promised orally to support their government and they were confident of getting the support of six others once they were invited to form the government.
The governor, however, did not agree with this line of reasoning.
"I am happy to see that after struggling for the last four and half years against the BJP-SS, we have got a secular and stable government in the state," Bhujbal said later.
"There were tensions between both parties. But due to the timely intervention of our leader Sharad Pawar, the issues have been resolved and we will form and lead a stable government for the next five years," he added.
Asked whether the new government would review the Enron power purchase agreement and projects launched by the BJP-Sena government, Vilas Deshmukh said, "I am not making any such statement. I will take an appropriate decision at the appropriate time."
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