Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh cancelled his trip to the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, where he planned to market the State – especially Mumbai as South Asia's most-favoured foreign investment destination, in view of the February 1 civic polls. He would now end up seeking votes for the Congress instead of interacting with world leaders from business, politics, academia and the media.
"It's true. I won't go to Davos. Instead, I will be addressing election rallies across the state – most of them in Mumbai as I want my party to come to power everywhere," Deshmukh told HT from Satara.
Deshmukh said he was all prepared to launch the party campaign on Saturday at a meeting scheduled to be held next to the Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray's Bandra residence.
But Congress sources said the party high command pressurised the CM to stall the visit as he's the star campaigner. During Thursday's New Delhi trip, the high command told the CM that the state's global marketing could wait for a while although he was very keen on utilising once-in-a-lifetime World Economic Forum visit.
"The high command asked CM to leave everything to senior bureaucrats because he is one of the few star campaigners in the party," said a senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity. Chief Secretary DK Sankaran will now lead the state delegation.
The Forum had invited Maharashtra following its excellent presentation on attracting Rs 35,000 cr investment in one year at the India Economic Forum in New Delhi last month.
Mumbai in particular is very important for the Congress as it wants to gain power for making the transformation possible. And since Deshmukh had initiated the make-over move, the party deems it fit for him to lead the campaign.
Deshmukh also holds a sort of record of holding hundreds of rallies across the state for the 2004 polls. The cancellation means availability of four more days and at least 12 more rallies to CM.
Party sources said Deshmukh is the only leader who could impress the voters and also launch equally strong attack on the Nationalist Congress Party leaders who ruled out pact with the Congress. Revenue Minister Narayan Rane is the other Congressman who could match Deshmukh's campaigning prowess.
But in the bargain, Deshmukh will not be able to address an inaugural breakfast meet in Davos on January 24. He will also miss an opportunity to highlighting the theme: "Maharashtra Means Business" during one-to-one interaction with several business and political leaders. He will also skip a speech on "City living in the urban age" on January 25.
CM's January 23-26 visit overlapped with designated campaigning period for the February 1 polls. Earlier the CM planned to address a kick-off meeting in Bandra on January 20 and few rallies in Pune next day before leaving for Davos. On return, he was to go on a whirlwind state tour from January 27 to 30.