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|October 17, 1999||
Chhagan Bhujbal to be deputy CM
Special Correspondent in Bombay
Chhagan Bhujbal has been made the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party's legislature party. He will become the deputy chief minister in the new Maharashtra government headed by Vilas Deshmukh of the Congress which is to be sworn in tomorrow morning.
It is learnt that Padamsinh Patil and Vijaysinh Mohite Patil were also in the contention for the NCP legislature party's leadership and, by extension, the deputy chief ministership of the state. But eventually Bhujbal was unanimously elected to the post as the ''consensus'' candidate.
Top leaders of the Congress and the NCP will meet later tonight to discuss the distribution of portfolios. The matter of who is to be made the speaker -- a sticky point which had almost led to the alliance floundering even before it got off the ground -- will, sources, say be decided tomorrow morning.
Speaking to newspersons the new Chief Minister Vilas Deshmukh said there ''was no dispute left between the two parties'' and that ''the proper person will be elected the speaker at the proper time.''
Questioned about the potential flash points in the ''marriage of convenience'' between the NCP and the Congress, Deshmukh said the ''clear mandate of the people in favour of the alliance and against the Sena-BJP one'' will be sufficient to guarantee the longevity of the new dispensation.
Vilas Deshmukh and Chhagan Bhujbal will be administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Dr P C Alexander at the Raj Bhavan in south Bombay at 1100 hours on Monday.
Soon after that both of them will go to Mantralaya, the state secretariat, and assume office formally. While Deshmukh replaces Shiv Sena leader Narayan Rane, Bhujbal will replace senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde. Deshmukh will be the 21st chief minister of the state.
The allies of the new government include the Peasants and Workers Party, the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, the Janata Dal-Secular, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Republican Party of India, the Samajwadi Party and others.
Meanwhile, outgoing chief minister Narayan Rane, when asked about the future of the SS-BJP alliance following the rift that had arisen between them over the chief minister's post, said the alliance is intact. He, however, said that there are ambitious people in the alliance and that people know who they are.
On being asked of the Sena's future plans, Rane said that there is a great need to reorganise the party and for the purpose, a Sena convention will be held in December to restructure the organisation with a view to strengthening it at all levels.
Stern action would be taken against those in the party who revolted during the elections, he added.
When asked who will be the leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly, the outgoing chief minister said the decision will be taken by the Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
In another development, NCP leader P A Sangma has stated that he is clearly unhappy with the coming together of the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra. Without saying so in as many words he implied that it defeated the very rationale of his and colleague Sharad Pawar's much touted rebellion against Sonia Gandhi on the foreigner issue.
Sangma disclosed that at the moment he has no intention to quit the NCP and that he would take up the Maharashtra issue in the party's working committee.
With added reportage by UNI
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