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Embattled Prithviraj Chavan faces Amit Shah threat

Even as the Cong-NCP combine keeps jolting CM’s chair, the BJP is getting stronger ahead of polls with Modi aide’s elevation as party chief

The state’s political arena is in a state of flux months before the assembly polls and the winds of change seem to be blowing in the BJP’s favour at the moment.

Braving the rain, BJP workers celebrated Amit Shah’s appointment as the party president at their Nariman Point office yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Braving the rain, BJP workers celebrated Amit Shah’s appointment as the party president at their Nariman Point office yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

While CM Prithviraj Chavan had to rush to Delhi again yesterday, in an apparent bid to save his chair, the state BJP unit received a massive shot in the arm with master strategist Amit Shah taking over the party’s reins.

It was only on Tuesday that Chavan had said emphatically in Pandharpur that there was no possibility of quitting, and had claimed that political friends were behind rumours of him doing so.

Political observers were surprised, then, to see him cancel all his scheduled appointments and rush to Delhi from Pune yesterday. Sources said he was expected to meet Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi in the Capital.

Among the meetings Chavan couldn’t make it to was one with a French delegation led by Paul Hermelin, senior representative of the Government of France for economics and trade. The French Ambassador to India, F Richier, was also expected to participate in the talks.

Merger in offing?
Highly-placed sources told mid-day that the possibility of the NCP merging into the Congress is being discussed at the highest levels in the two parties and Chavan’s ouster is being made a pre-condition by the Congress ally.

The Congress’ dithering on the issue stems largely from the fact that they see Chavan’s clean image as an asset ahead of the upcoming polls. At the same time, the party’s top leadership is being forced to consider the possibility of asking him to quit because he is facing opposition not just from the NCP camp, but from within the state Congress as well.

Celebration time for BJP
The BJP, meanwhile, received a booster shot yesterday in the form of Modi’s right hand man, Amit Shah, being elevated to the party chief’s post. “This is a positive development and the Mahayuti will gain considerably in Maharashtra,” said BJP MLC and leader of opposition in the state council, Vinod Tawde.

State BJP sources said Shah would now play a bigger role in the Maharashtra polls, particularly in seat sharing talks with the Shiv Sena and the other three allies — RPI, Swabhimani Shetakari Sanghatana and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha.

Known as a tough negotiator and master strategist, Shah’s experiment of social engineering paid rich dividends to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh during the Lok Sabha elections. With him in charge, say party men, the BJP has a very good chance of coming to power in the state.

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