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CM chosen, but Cong troubles far from over

Dec 06, 2008 02:45 AM IST Politics Politics
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Mumbai: It was the worst terror attack India has ever seen, and as public anger mounted post the terror strike in Mumbai, then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh embarassed his party by touring hotel Taj with filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma in tow.

This sealed Deshmukh's fate and after 72 hours of deliberation, Congress asked for his resignation. Then began the rounds of endless meetings to find a successor who would be just right.

At a time when more pressing matters awaited being dealt with in Delhi, Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony dashed to Mumbai to make the right choice.

Sonia Gandhi's task was made difficult by the fact that she had to chose a person who would get both the caste equations right while being acceptable to the NCP.

"After much deliberation, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has communicated that Ashok Chavan will be the leader of the legislature party," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced in Mumbai on Friday.

Ashok Chavan was chosen because he has a low profile, is non-controversial and a Maratha with the right antecedents. But more importantly, at this crucial time for the party, Chavan will toe the line and make the right noises.

"The aam aadmi (common man) is not concerned with who is chief minister or the deputy chief minister. They just want the administration to be strong," said Chavan after being selected for the post.

"It's a challenge, and I accept this challenge," said Chavan, adding that it was important for his government "to deliver".

However, the Congress' troubles are far from over. Another contender for the post, Revenue Minister and former Shiv Senaite, Narayan Rane has declared revolt. He attacked the Congress high command and questioned his party's future.

"Ashok Chavan doesn't doesn't deserve to be in the race. He cannot handle even his ministry, he can't be my competitor for the CM's post. I am opting out of the Chief Ministerial race," said Rane, accusing the Congress high command of breaking its promise of making him the CM. "I don't trust even Sonia Gandhi anymore," he said.

Sources say that disciplinary action will be taken against Rane.

After five days of unceratinty, the kissa kursi ka (debate over who will be Chief Minister) has ended, but the days ahead are no easy. The Congress it has to stitch its tattered image and it's hoping that Ashok Chavan is tailor-made for the job.