Shinde likely to replace Deshmukh soon

April 8th, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who has been under criticism for non-performance, is likely to be replaced by Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Congress sources said here Tuesday. The party sources say Deshmukh will be out immediately after the ongoing state assembly session is over April 20.

They say the party leadership is not happy with Deshmukh’s perceived non-performance.

Moreover, Shinde - a former Maharashtra chief minister - being a Dalit leader, his entry would help the ruling party to check the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)’s growing influence among that section of the voters, Congress leaders hope.

Party president Sonia Gandhi Sunday denied reports about any change of guard in Maharashtra, but the sources said the denial came as the state assembly was in session and crucial financial bills are pending.

In Sunday’s cabinet expansion and reshuffle, Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for commerce, was also made minister of state for power, setting tongues wagging that Power Minister Shinde could be given another assignment.

Gandhi has set up an informal three-member panel consisting of senior cabinet ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony and senior Maharashtra leader Prabha Rau to give final touches to the proposed changes in the state.

Deshmukh has been under fire from his party colleagues for non-performance, especially during the recent violence against North Indians by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

The party sources said Deshmukh’s exit has been on the cards since his Revenue Minister and former Shiv Sena leader Narayan Rane’s outbursts against him last December.

Rane had then warned the Congress leadership that there would be problems in the next elections if the chief minister continued ruling the state in the “same fashion”.

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