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Stepdown welcomed, but new CM has tough task

india Updated: Dec 05, 2008 00:00 IST
Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit

Public outrage, political compulsions and badly timed statements. With the ouster of Vilasrao Deshmukh and RR Patil — the duo survived the floods of July 26, 2005, the serial train blasts of 2006 and violence against north Indians this year — the Congress and NCP are hoping to salvage what they can in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls.

“It is a good sign that the chief minister and deputy CM stepped down,” said Surendra Jondhale, head, department of civics and politics, University of Mumbai. “If the Congress would not have done this it would have been political suicide.”

According to Jondhale, the widespread public resentment

towards leaders, Patil’s statement that such incidents occur in big cities and Deshmukh’s terror tourism prompted the move.

But Jondhale is not convinced that a change of guard would mean more concentration on safety measures. “The criterion for the new CM would be someone who can make success

possible for the Congress in the elections.”

Ashwani Kumar, professor of politics, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and visiting professor at Centre of Global Governance at London School of Economics does not find the change of guard in Maharashtra surprising.

“As ‘internal security’ or so-called ‘war on terror’ has suddenly acquired enormous political salience especially in the season of political cycle in India, the Congress not only faces the prospects of losing assembly elections but also national elections.”

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