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Maharashtra: Shinde may replace Deshmukh
A BS reporter | December 27, 2007 03:17 IST
The rebellion by Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane against Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh may be short-lived.
The Maratha leader, who crossed over to the Congress from the Shiv Sena and helped the former add seven MLAs to its kitty, has been asked to keep quiet.
Top sources in the party said Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] was considering a change of leadership in Maharashtra.
However, no decision would be taken immediately as it might suggest the party was shaky after the recent drubbing in Gujarat. Sonia will do nothing to help the BJP encash its Gujarat victory in other states, say sources.
The Congress has conveyed to Rane that Sushil Kumar Shinde is likely to be made chief minister if there is a change of leadership.
Party sources say Rane's rebellion has only consolidated Deshmukh. According to a senior Congress leader, if Sonia decides to replace Dehmukh now, it will appear that she has done so under pressure from Rane.
While the party's internal reports say there is a strong anti-incumbency wave against Deshmukh, a large section in the party is opposed to change. Their logic: There is no certainty that changing the chief minister will change the state government's incumbency record.
Deshmukh has also bargained with the high command that the party's state organisation should also be reshuffled in the event of a change.
"He is clear that if he has to go on account of anti-incumbency, the PCC president and others should also be removed to give the party a fresh look," said a party source.
Rane's chances are ruled out because of other reasons as well. NCP leader Sharad Pawar [Images], the chief of the Congress' alliance partner in Maharashtra, is opposed to Rane's elevation in the ministry. Pawar's party is fighting Rane for political space in the Konkan region.