Maharashtra Chief Minister insists he was elected, not appointed

December 14th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghMumbai, Dec 14 (IANS) Maharashtra’s new Chief Minister Ashok Chavan insists he was ‘elected’ to the post, not appointed by the Congress leadership.”I was not ‘appointed’ (as chief minister) but ‘elected’ by a majority of the Congress party legislators in the presence of central observers,” Chavan Sunday emphasised in an interview to Marathi TV channel IBN-Lokmat, when asked how he felt after the appointment.

Even as Chavan, son of former chief minister Shankarrao Chavan, expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for favouring him, he said the decision was taken on the basis of preference shown to his candidature by a majority of the party legislators at the meeting in Mumbai Dec 4.

Chavan was sworn in as Maharashtra’s 24th chief minister four days after his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh resigned, owning moral responsibility for the loss of more than 170 innocent lives in the Nov 26 terror strike in Mumbai.

With Congress central observers returning to Delhi after the Dec 4 meeting in Mumbai without announcing the name of Deshmukh’s successor, there were reports that Chavan’s name came up despite a majority of party legislators preferring revenue minister Narayan Rane to be the next chief minister.

While there were rumours all through the evening when the observers were interviewing (party legislators) that Deshmukh and Congress state unit chief Manikrao Thakre told the legislators to ‘vote’ for Chavan if they wanted a ticket for the next assembly election, Rane told reporters next day that he in fact got 48 votes as against 35 ‘polled’ by Chavan.

Chavan rejected a suggestion that he was Deshmukh’s dummy and that his predecessor dominated the ministry making exercise.

“There is no question whether it was ‘his’ cabinet or ‘mine’… after all, the selection of ministers is done by the party through consultations, not by the chief minister alone,” he said.

Declining to comment on the performance of Deshmukh, Chavan, however, said, he would like to lead from the front, fulfilling popular expectations that the chief minister should be accessible to the common man and be ready to come on to the streets to lead the people.

“There are two things: I have seen power from close quarters as my father was the state’s chief minister twice… so I am not enamoured of it, nor will the power go to my head.

“Secondly, since I have been a party worker from my college days in Mumbai, I will continue to see myself as a worker rubbing shoulder with the cadre,” he said.

Listing resolution of power crisis, implementation of Narendra Jadhav committee recommendations on helping out distressed farmers and dispersal of industry to all parts of the state as the main tasks before him, Chavan, however, said the immediate thing to do is to firm up the state’s coastal security and strengthen the police force.

He also talked tough on the hate campaign against north Indians unleashed by some “politically motivated mavericks”, indicating that he would not put up with any such activities.

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