|HOME | ELECTION | REPORT|
|October 20, 1999||
Ranjit Deshmukh vents Vidarbha's ire, resigns as MLC leader
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Bombay
Senior Congress leader from Vidarbha Ranjit Deshmukh has submitted his resignation as the leader of the party in the Maharashtra Legislative Council.
Deshmukh told reporters at the Vidhan Bhavan in Bombay that he had tendered his resignation to the Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. He lamented that he had been deliberately ignored in the first phase of ministry formation of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government.
''The Congress high command is ignoring the party loyalists. This is a grave injustice on Vidarbha, which has returned the highest number of MLAs -- 30 out of the 75 -- in the lower house of the legislature,'' he said.
With this, Ranjit Deshmukh has cast a shadow on the newly sworn-in Congress-Nationalist Congress Party regime in Maharashtra. In fact, Deshmukh is said to be disgruntled at the selection of Vilas Deshmukh as chief minister of the state.
Speaking to rediff.com, Ranjit Deshmukh, however, put an altruistic spin on his disappointment, saying, "I do not mind not being included in the ministry. But I felt hurt when only two MLAs from Vidarbha were given berths in the newly formed ministry. And out of them, one is a Cabinet minister and the other is a junior minister."
There is much personal pique but also some merit to what he says. Vidarbha is one of the major regions of Maharashtra and has always been a Congress bastion. Nagpur is the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and yet Vidarbha has always supported the Congress -- even after the Emergency.
Ranjit Deshmukh, naturally, felt it was high time for someone from Vidarbha to be the chief minister of Maharashtra. But his hopes were to be dashed.
Sources close to him say Ranjit Deshmukh's ire against Vilas Deshmukh is less that the latter hails from Marathwada than his chequered political career. Vilas Deshmukh had briefly left the Congress and even contested as an independent against the official Congress candidate in an assembly by-election in 1996 in his hometown of Latur.
In the 35 years it ruled Maharashtra, the Congress has always been dominated by people from Western Maharashtra -- whether it was Y B Chavan, Vasant Patil or Sharad Pawar. Other regions were mostly neglected.
"Out of the 75 Congress MLAs, 30 are from Vidarbha. So I feel that justice has not been done to us. And that's why I have openly stated my views," Deshmukh said.
Asked whether he would revolt against the party high command on the issue, Deshmukh replied, "No, there is no question of revolting. I have just expressed my opinion in a democratic manner. And I don't see anything wrong in that."
He made it clear that he has no intention of splitting the party and will support the vote of confidence in the Vilas Deshmukh ministry.
His unhappiness had caused much encouragement in the SS-BJP camp as they are hoping to prevent the Congress-NCP combine from getting the numbers right on the floor of the assembly.
It may be recalled that the SS-BJP had submitted a list of 136 MLAs to the governor and said four more MLAs has orally rendered support to them. At that stage they were just short of five MLAs to attain the magic figure of 145.
Interestingly, Bal Thackeray confidently stated at his annual Dussehra rally that it was only a matter of time before the SS-BJP returns to power.
If Ranjit Deshmukh, contrary to what he asserts, does split the Congress to form his own organisation, he will need 26 MLAs to avoid the anti-defection law. And it is not impossible that he can carry the 28 MLAs from Vidarbha with him considering the bad bargain they have had so far.
Meanwhile, the newly formed government has received a jolt after the three member Republican Party of India (Ambedkar) said it would remain neutral and not support any party. This is a volte-face on Prakash Ambedkar's earlier stance. He had fought the elections in alliance with the Congress.
The total tally of the ruling alliance has come down now to 147 MLAs with the death of the Congress MLA from Colaba, Marzban Patrawala.
One can safely prognosticate difficult times ahead for the new incumbents in Mantralaya.
(Additional reporting by UNI)
ELECTION 99 |
SINGLES | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | MONEY
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK