Bhujbal to be new Maharashtra deputy chief minister (Lead)

December 5th, 2008 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai/Pune, Dec 5 (IANS) Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar Friday announced in Pune that party leader Chhagan Bhujbal would be Maharashtra’s new deputy chief minister.Bhujbal, who holds the public works department portfolio, will now oversee the crucial home department, Pawar said.

His appointment comes five days after R.R. Patil resigned as deputy chief minister, owning moral responsibility for last week’s terror attacks in Mumbai, which left 172 people dead.

The NCP’s state unit, at its meeting in Mumbai Tuesday, had authorised Pawar to take the decision on the new deputy chief minister and home minister - posts allocated to the party, which is a member of Maharashtra’s Democratic Front alliance government.

At an impromptu press conference held immediately after the announcement, Bhujbal said: “The state needs stability after the latest crisis that shook the entire nation.”

Bhujbal had earlier held the position of deputy chief minister in the 1999-2003 Vilasrao Deshmukh cabinet.

A high profile leader of other backward castes (OBC), Bhujbal passed through a bad patch last year with his relations with Pawar being strained. He had even contemplated quitting the party, having given ample hints to that effect.

Beginning his political career with the Shiv Sena in 1973, Bhujbal was twice elected mayor of Mumbai but left the party in 1993, upset with Bal Thackeray for allegedly favouring former chief minister Manohar Joshi.

In 2003, Bhujbal had to resign as home minister in the wake of the infamous Telgi stamp paper scandal.

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