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Is a sword hanging on CM Prithviraj Chavan's head?

Likely visit by Congress biggies A K Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad next week interpreted as a sign of change looming over his chief ministership

The state’s political landscape seems to be up for a pruning, with reports that A K Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad, the two veteran Congress leaders, will be visiting Mumbai soon. Soon after the reports, the anti-Prithviraj Chavan camp has begun assessing its strength.

CM Chavan said that he is ready to shoulder any responsibility given to him by the party high command. File pic
CM Chavan said that he is ready to shoulder any responsibility given to him by the party high command. File pic

Amid the rumours, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar dropped a bombshell with his statement that Congress wanted him to lead the campaign for the assembly elections coming October. News of Antony and Azad’s visit to the city spread like wildfire on Friday. They may arrive any day after Monday, sources said.

Reading it as an indication of a possible replacement of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, the anti-Chavan group started contacting party legislators to express their views before the top leaders. The legislators, who owe allegiance to former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Vilasrao Deshmukh, are said to be gearing up for a big show before the two visiting stalwarts.

A visit by Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil to Minister of State Ranjit Kamble’s official residence opposite Mantralaya was also seen as significant. Vikhe Patil is perceived to be close to Ashok Chavan. Meanwhile, the CM said in Pune that he was not aware of any such plans.

“I have not been sounded out on this or called to Delhi in this connection,” he said, adding for good measure that it is the party high command’s prerogative to change chief ministers as it sees fit, and he is ready to shoulder any responsibility given to him.

He also said that until a decision was made, he would continue with his work. On the other hand, Sharad Pawar told reporters that he had been asked to lead the state polls campaign. Speaking with reporters at the state unit’s office, he said that replacing Chavan was Congress’s internal matter, and his party had nothing to do with it. “But, we are going to make big changes in the party organization, as well at the cabinet level. That will happen next week,” he said.

mid-day had reported yesterday about the NCP’s plan to replace its state unit chief Bhaskar Jadhav and a few other ministers in the face of the elections. If Pawar is being approached to lead the campaign it amply indicates that the Congress maintains doubts on Chavan’s capabilities,” Congress leaders said. “It also means the party has lost faith in him,” they added.

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