Deshmukh rubbishes removal rumours
Denying speculations over his removal from the top post, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi Friday, claimed that "all is well."
Deshmukh, who met the party chief for the first time after the defeat of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate in the May 22 Thane Lok Sabha by-election, also said the ruling party would review the functioning of the organisation and rework its strategies ahead of the 2009 parliamentary elections.
"All is well... I am satisfied," Deshmukh told reporters outside Gandhi's 10, Janpath residence.
The chief minister's meeting with Gandhi came a day after a three-member informal panel of Congress leaders met her to discuss party affairs in Maharashtra.
The panel, comprising External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and senior party functionary Ahmed Patel, has reviewed the situation in Maharashtra where the Congress, along with NCP, is in power.
The panel was formed earlier this year amid speculations that the Congress leadership was set to replace Deshmukh ahead of the elections - the Maharashtra assembly elections are also due in 2009.
Deshmukh also told the reporters that the state unit would make a detailed study of the changes that occurred due to the delimitation process in the state.
The Maharashtra chief minister, who has been criticised for "failing to provide a good administration in the state", said he thanked Gandhi for the party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's decision to expand the scope of the farm loan waiver scheme.
He said the Rs.716 billion scheme would benefit at least 85 percent of the small farmers in the drought-hit Vidarbha region of the state.
Deshmukh said the Maharashtra government had allocated Rs.1.41 billion for extending the loan waiver scheme to seven more districts, which would not come under the central government programme.