The elections have yet to be announced, but the jockeying has already begin. At least three serious contenders have emerged in the Congress for the post of chief minister.
#1. CM Ashok Chavan is ensuring that he does not meet the fate of Sushilkumar Shinde who led the state to victory in the 2004 assembly elections only to lose the chief ministership to Vilasrao Deshmukh. Helping Chavan in his plans is state Congress president Manikrao Thakre.
#2. Vilasrao Deshmukh is trying to get the maximum tickets for his supporters so that he emerges as the popular choice for the CM’s post if the party wins a majority.
#3. Narayan Rane is busy building bridges in Delhi.
He has already patched up with his one-time enemy Deshmukh, hoping for the latter’s support in case the party has to choose between Rane and Chavan for the post. Significantly, Deshmukh had a meeting with Rane but “did not have the time” when Chavan invited him for dinner recently.
So, expect high drama in case the Congress-NCP returns to power and the Congress wins more seats than the NCP.
Who’ll teach the minister?
The Bombay High Court’s stay order on ATKT for SSC students in up to two subjects comes as a relief — to students of course, but also to the officers in the school education department.
Because they now hope that the HC’s stand will rein in their boss, School education minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, whose populist decisions have become a regular headache for them.
First, the minister wanted 90 per cent quota for state board students. Then he wanted to promote SSC students to the next class even if they failed to clear a maximum of two subjects.
Now, the officials are praying fervently for elections to be announced and the model code of conduct to kick in, so the mantriji can take a break from his revolutionary ideas.
In the run-up to the polls, the Congress government wants to announce some people-friendly decisions. Only problem is, our netas are too busy manoeuvering to get tickets for themselves and their supporters to think of the people.
So they’ve done what they usually do in such circumstances — pass the work on to the top babus in Mantralaya. Now the poor babus are taxing their brains to come up with populist schemes. Have any ideas? Rush them to Mantralaya.
Uddhav goes rural
Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray is trying an image makeover. He is working on a new image — that of a leader who understands the problems of the rural populace, especially farmers.
During his recent road tour of central Maharashtra, Uddhav made it a point to stop at a few farms en route to meet the farmers and tal to them about the problems they face.
Perhaps Uddhav is taking a leaf out of Rahul Gandhi’s book? Whatever the reason, he’s finally trying to connect to the people directly. Jai Maharashtra!
All three newly-elected Rajya Sabha members from Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Govindrao Adik and Ranjitsinh Mohite Patil opted to take their oaths in Marathi in Parliament. Could this be the MNS effect?