Political equations may change with power shift | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Political equations may change with power shift

The Congress leadership has been forced to take a political gamble by removing Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. Exactly a year ago, after a victory in the assembly polls, the party leadership had not thought twice before retaining Chavan as the chief minister.

mumbai Updated: Nov 10, 2010 01:16 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad

The Congress leadership has been forced to take a political gamble by removing Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. Exactly a year ago, after a victory in the assembly polls, the party leadership had not thought twice before retaining Chavan as the chief minister.

The party had high hopes from Chavan, who was seen as the first chief ministerial nominee of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. However, with names of Chavan’s in-laws cropping up in the Adarsh society scam, the party now found it difficult to retain him.

The decision is also likely to have an impact on the politicial equations in Maharashtra as the Congress is the largest party in the state.

“A lot depends on the man, the party chooses to be chief minister, and whether he can deliver. He will have to run the government efficiently, maintain relations with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and revive the party,” said political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar. “If he fails, the Congress will be in trouble in the state.”

The aftereffects of the change in leadership are already visible on the party’s alliance partner, the NCP. The reconstitution of the cabinet has led to supporters of NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar demanding that he be elevated to the post of deputy chief minister.

After the 2009 assembly elections, Ajit had emerged as a choice of majority of the party MLAs, but NCP leadership preferred Chhagan Bhujbal, an OBC leader for deputy chief ministership.

Developments in the NCP would depend upon the stand Ajit takes in the party meeting on Wednesday, when a new leader would be elected. “If Ajitdada is not convinced, he may take an extreme step. In that case, expect a bigger political crisis,” said a NCP minister, who did not wish to be named.

And if Sharad Pawar manages to pacify Ajit, as he has done in the past, the NCP would be more aggressive. In the past two years, Chavan managed to keep a check on the NCP.

“The Congress will expect Chavan’s successor to keep the NCP under check and at the same time maintain good relations with them,” added Kumar.

On the other hand, the Adarsh scam and the instability in the Congress-NCP camp have revived the hopes of the Shiv Sena-BJP combine to make a comeback. The Congress-NCP will have to face an aggressive Sena-BJP in the run up to the crucial civic and zilla parishad polls in 2012.

This would also put focus on Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). The party may look to push through its hardcore agenda if it sees that the ruling parties are busy with their own problems.