For the second time in 11 months, Ashok Chavan has won the confidence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi to become the chief minister of Maharashtra.
The 51-year-old is now expected to concentrate on the agenda that he set for the state last December but couldn’t implement for want of time.
Political analysts say this time round, Chavan has a tougher task at hand. The government he will be heading has been elected for a third term, and expectations will be high.
To add to that, chief ministerial aspirants Vilasrao Deshmukh and Narayan Rane are unlikely to let him have a smooth run.
“Chavan’s opponents will wait for the right opportunity before striking hard. It will be tight-rope walking from here on,” said political analyst Surendra Jondhale.
Chavan’s detractors think he is too soft in running the government. Some say he may get bullied by NCP stalwarts like Ajit Pawar, R.R. Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal in the cabinet.
But Chavan is no novice. He learnt the tricks of the trade watching his father, the late S.B. Chavan, who was chief minister of Maharashtra for two terms and a central minister for several years.
Although his entry to the legislature and later to the state Cabinet was easier due to his father’s clout, Chavan had to prove his capabilities.
Before he was made CM, Chavan was instrumental in setting up India’s largest automobile hub in the Pune-Nashik-Aurangabad triangle. Mumbaiites remember him as Revenue Minister between 1999-2003, when he introduced a policy promoting multiplexes. Political commentator Nilu Damle says, “People like him because he talks real things, is composed and has an urban connect.”
Chavan graduated in science and business management from Mumbai before he moved to his ancestral town Nanded. He was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1988 and to the state legislature in 1992. He has managed to win more seats for his party in both the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls than alliance partner NCP.
“Now people expect him to fulfil promises and tackle burning issues,” said Jondhale. The real test would be governance; if he does not deliver, he might have to go.