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Power struggle to intensify?

With the judicial commission probing Adarsh giving relief to Congress leaders, there is flurry of activity in the Congress camp. Shailesh Gaikwad writes.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2012 01:02 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times

With the judicial commission probing Adarsh giving relief to Congress leaders, there is flurry of activity in the Congress camp. Three former chief ministers — Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde — who were lying low because of the Adarsh controversy, are now looking at getting a chance to play a bigger role in the party’s affairs in the state. They will also expect the party to consult them when appointments to key posts such as Mumbai and state Congress president are made. Unhappy souls among the Congress legislators, who are irked by the ‘non-cooperative’ chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, now have three more options to turn to.

So does that mean the countdown has begun for Chavan to return to Delhi? The talk among party legislators is that there will be a change of guard in the next few months. However, there is no such indication from the party leadership yet. Although a section of legislators have started complaining about him, the leadership cannot ignore the fact that Chavan steered the government clear of the crisis following Adarsh. His clean image and the decisions taken by him to bring transparency (and to rein in the mighty builders’ lobby) have definitely helped the party in Maharashtra. It would be an injustice to him if he is abruptly shifted out of Mantralaya. And the party top brass is aware of this. Further, Chavan also has the benefit of the TINA (there is no alternative) factor as of now. The options available are probably not convincing enough for the party to change the chief minister. Besides, it could be too early for the party to consider any of the ex-CMs.

On the other hand, the Chavan camp points out that there is absolutely no reason to think of a leadership change. Although they were on the defensive following the party’s debacle in the civic polls of Mumbai and other major cities, the better show put up by the Congress in four of the five cities where elections were held a week ago has given them a boost. That the party did well in Bhiwandi and Malegaon, which have a large number of Muslim voters, has also come in handy for the Chavan camp.

Chavan’s meeting with party chief Sonia Gandhi and key functionary Ahmed Patel in Delhi on Saturday are an indication of the activities that have gained momentum in the party. The crucial question is: Can he win the Lok Sabha and assembly elections for the party in Maharashtra? The debate over this has been going on in the party since the civic polls. With three ex-CMs now becoming more active, the issue is back on the table. The power struggle within Maharashtra Congress has just begun.

Mumbai ignored, again?
For 48 hours, Mumbaiites who take the Central or Harbor rail lines to travel to work had a harrowing time as Central Railway was thrown out of gear by a fire at Kurla. This happened when the session of the state legislature was in progress. Sadly, neither ruling nor opposition politicians raised the issue on Wednesday.

The government didn’t seem to have any workable contingency plan in place. None of the politicians bothered to visit the railway stations to examine the plight of commuters. Now with this kind of apathy shown towards problems of common Mumbaiites, can politicians blame the people of Mumbai if they don’t turn out to vote in large numbers?