M A I N   N E W S

Maratha lobby averse to Shinde as CM
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, October 28
Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is facing a tough battle from the powerful Maratha lobby which is seeking to deny him another term.

Hours after it was decided that the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra would be from the Congress Party, several prominent MLAs, including members of Mr Shinde’s outgoing Cabinet, began pressing for a ‘leadership change’ in the state, according to sources.

Prominent among those seeking to remove Mr Shinde include former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Industries Minister Patangrao Kadam. Both leaders told reporters today that they were in the race for the top job and the party high command should not ignore the powerful Maratha community in Maharashtra.

On the other hand, Mr Shinde, who is a Dalit enjoys considerable support among Congress leaders in New Delhi. Shortly after it was decided that the next Chief Minister would be from the Congress, Mr Shinde began activating his network to woo individual MLAs’. Shinde is also said to enjoy considerable support from the Congress, alliance partner, the Nationalist Congress’ Party. Over the years Mr Shinde has built a network cutting across caste and political affiliations and is now tapping his contacts for another stint as the chief executive of Maharashtra.

NCP’s Marathas who are in the race for the post of Deputy Chief Minister are also said to be supporting Mr Shinde. Outgoing Deputy Chief Minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, former Home Minister R R Patil and Mr Ajit Pawar, nephew of the Sharad Pawar, are among those who have extended support to Mr Shinde, according to sources. These leaders are keen on cutting former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP, another Dalit, to size.

All main contenders for the top post are hoping for a resolution by tomorrow morning when the Congress Legislative Party meets to decide on the leadership issue.

According to Congress party spokesman Anant Gadgil, the CLP will meet at 11 a.m. at Vidhan Bhavan.

The meeting of the NCP legislature party will also be held in the morning.

There will then be a joint meeting of the newly elected MLA of both parties to ratify their respective decisions

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