Political circles were abuzz with talks of new equations being formed between two top Congressmen and ex-chief ministers - union heavy industries minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh and revenue minister, Narayan Rane.
The two leaders shared a dais on Saturday on the second anniversary of Rane’s Marathi daily newspaper, Prahar. They used this platform to take potshots at chief minister, Ashok Chavan, who has, of late, emerged a common political rival.
On the same day, Chavan and former CM, Sushilkumar Shinde, who heads the union power ministry, were all praises for each other at a public function in Solapur, Shinde’s hometown.
The patch-up between Deshmukh and Rane did not surprise political experts. Deshmukh has a grouse that Chavan did not live up to his expectations after becoming CM on Deshmukh’s recommendation.
Rane, who after defecting to the Congress from the Shiv Sena in 2005, considered then CM Deshmukh as competition, has now targeted Chavan for sidelining him in the government though his is the second most important portfolio after the CM's.
Rane’s heartburn increased recently because the Chavan-led government registered a criminal case against his younger son Nitesh, who has been accused of firing at his associate Chintu Sheikh.
Rane had said in private that Chavan could have helped him, and the Congress is avoiding an embarrassment in view of the police case. He did not like Chavan encouraging the Opposition to ensure a proper inquiry into the case. Chavan is reported to have ignored Rane’s plea saying that he will not intervene in the home department’s decisions.
In his speech on Saturday, Rane attacked his own government for its fast track action in his son’s case. “I, as a minister have some constraints, so have avoided speaking too much on this case. But I must say the government and its home department had a ‘sensitive’ approach towards the case. A senior police officer personally ensured that a police complaint was filed against Nitesh.”
Deshmukh said, “I’m happy that you have an efficient government and officers. Such efficiency was lacking in my time (as CM).”
“In my time, the officers would investigate first and then register complaints. But now I hear that senior officials themselves are filing complaints,” he added.