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Shell-shocked Maha ministers avoid discussing LS election debacle

In their weekly cabinet meeting yesterday, no minister dared broach the subject of the Congress-NCP coalition’s demolition in the Lok Sabha polls; CM too is dejected

Morale is at an all-time low in the state government, after voters gave them a royal drubbing at the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. Chief Minister (CM) Prithviraj Chavan and his cabinet ministers are so shell-shocked at their poor showing that even bringing up the topic in the cabinet meetings is taboo.

Prithviraj Chavan
FEELING LOW: The CM will meet his party’s ministers today to discuss the poor performance in the polls. File pics

At the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, no minister dared broach the subject of Lok Sabha elections. “Had there been a debate, it would’ve reached the media, making our position even more compromising,” a minister told mid-day. There were just five items on the agenda – not of much importance – but the meeting lasted three hours, another irked minister.

'Resigned' to fate
Even the CM is dejected, and fears a whispering campaign against him. Industries Minister Narayan rane and Water Conservation Minister Dr Nitin Raut resigned, but the CM had to reject them, or risk raising a storm. So shocked was Chavan that he avoided the media for four days.

"Only after an assurance from the Congress high command that he wouldn't be asked to resign, did he speak to the media on Tuesday, and surprisingly, blamed the centre for the poor results in the polls,” sources from the Congress said.

Rane, despite still being minister, skipped the Wednesday meeting. He didn’t even communicate his absence in writing to the CM, as is the practice, revealed a source. Raut, too, inquired about the status of his resignation on Tuesday and showed up the next day after learning that it had been rejected.

Fearing backlash
Senior party ministers fear their legislators will blame them for their party’s disastrous campaigns. The monsoon session of the state legislature, beginning on June 2, is expected to be stormy.

“Ruling party legislators are worried about their fate in the upcoming state assembly elections,” sources said.

The Congress has won two seats in the state and the NCP four – the coalition had calculated that, in the worst-case scenario, they would still notch 16-18 seats.

Even the victories are by small margins. Both parties will convene separate meetings to analyse the dismal showing – CM Chavan will be meeting ministers today and NCP chief Sharad Pawar will also meet his party ministers.

Saving grace

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