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Ranjit Deshmukh out; Prabha Rao MPCC chief
June 27, 2004 19:56 IST
Last Updated: June 27, 2004 20:10 IST
Ahead of assembly polls in Maharashtra, the Congress leadership on Sunday appointed former AICC general secretary Prabha Rao to head the Pradesh Congress Committee in place of Ranjit Deshmukh.
AICC General Secretary and in-charge of Maharashtra affairs Vayalar Ravi told PTI here that Rao, a former MP, has been given the charge with immediate effect.
The change of guard in Maharashtra was expected in view of the party's poor performance in the recent Lok Sabha polls in the state.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was in Delhi last week and had consultations with party chief Sonia Gandhi.
The directive given by Ravi to Deshmukh on Friday to put off the June 26 meeting of the PCC executive committee had fuelled speculation of charge of PCC leadership.
Deshmukh, who was recently critical of Ravi following of his renomination to contest the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls, had convened Executive Committee meeting to discuss the poor performance of the party in the Lok Sabha polls.
Congress sources said that several senior party leaders from Maharashtra had complained against Deshmukh,
Claiming that he has been made a scapegoat for the Congress debacle, Deshmukh said Shinde and Ravi should also step down owning responsibility.
"The first responsibility is that of the Chief Minister along with the in-charge of party affairs in state and PCC chief is the third person who can be held responsible for the party's poor performance", Deshmukh told reporters here.
"If AICC incharge Ravi is not replaced before the forthcoming assembly elections, Maharashtra will do a Kerala," he said. The party has lost all seats in Kerala in the recent polls.
Deshmukh said he had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and apprised her of the prevailing situation in the state and reasons behind the Congress defeat in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions. "She in turn asked me to it discuss with her political secretary Ahmad Patel," he said.
Eight former PCC chiefs, including former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh too had aired grievances against Ravi, Deshmukh added.
NCP wanted to demolish the traditional Congress bastion of Vidarbha and had asked for Congress nominees in Vidardha who were 'suitable' for them, he said and distanced himself from nomination process for Lok Sabha polls, saying four nominations of sitting members -- two from RPI, two NCP and one nomination of Mukul Wasnik for Buldana seat was made by the high command.
Deshmukh said he had little say in the selection of candidates and thus cannot be held responsible for the waterloo.
A coterie was working within the party which played the spoilsport, he alleged.
"The defeat was due to a combination of factors like state government's performance, giving more seats to alliance partners NCP and RPI, caste imbalance, repetition of candidates who had lost earlier and neglect of the backward classes," Deshmukh said, adding those outside the party were given more importance.
He said, "The base of Congress in Vidarbha cannot be eroded due to ineffectiveness of one man."
Deshmukh said a coterie of four should be held responsible for the party's 'worst-ever' performance in
"A large number of Congressmen were against the pre-poll electoral alliance with NCP in the state which was opposed by Ravi," he said "A picture was projected that alliance with NCP will be beneficial, which proved wrong."
More reports from Maharashtra
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