Prithviraj Chavan named new CM of Maharashtra

NEW DELHI: Transparency appears to be the watchword of Chief Minister-designate Prithviraj Chavan who takes over the reins of Maharashtra tomorrow in the wake of the housing society scam.

“My priority is to give a transparent administration,” Chavan said to a volley of questions as he prepared to take the place of Ashok Chavan, who was forced to resign as Chief Minister following the Adarsh scam.

The 64-year-old CM-designate, however, skirted questions as to what action he would take against those involved in the scam. “I do not want to say anything.”

Asked about her message to Maharashtra, Congress President Sonia Gandhi remarked “the message has already gone”.

Chavan sidestepped a question whether he was a choice of Rahul Gandhi. “I will not say this. Congress President asked me. It is a decision of the High Command and not one man”.

To a question whether he has patched up with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, whose party is a major ally in Maharashtra, Chavan said, “There is nothing to patch up. It is not a personal fight.”

Chavan is a three-term Lok Sabha member from Karad winning elections in 1991, 1996 and 1998. Chavan lost the 1999 Lok Sabha elections to Shriniwas Patil of the NCP, a party Pawar had formed after parting ways with Congress in June the same year.

Chavan said he met Pawar, who has extended him best wishes for the new responsibility.

To a question, Chavan said his identity as an anti-Sharad Pawar person was not correct. “We have our own party, they have their own party. We are trying to grow on our own as a national party,” he said.

Asked whether there will be a new power-sharing formula for greater co-ordination, he merely said “nothing has been discussed”.

He also parried questions as to how many ministers would be sworn in with him.

Chavan said he had not decided whether he would contest elections for the state Assembly or opt for becoming a member of the Legislative Council.

His refrain was that he would take everyone along to provide a good government to the state.

“We have been running a coalition in Maharashtra with NCP since 1999. It is not correct to say (I don’t have good relations with NCP),” he said.

He disagreed with a questioner who asked whether it would be difficult for him to be in state politics since he has been in national politics for a very long time.

“I am confident that I will be able to deliver with the help and cooperation of all,” Chavan said.

Non-member

Technocrat-politician Prithviraj Chavan, thrust into the mantle of Maharashtra Government’s leadership, is the latest state politician who would be sworn in as the Chief Minister although he is not a member of either House of the state legislature.

64-year-old Chavan, a member of the Rajya Sabha, will have to get elected to either the state Assembly or Council within six months of being sworn in..

In 1980, A R Antulay became the first politician in Maharashtra to be sworn in as CM while not a legislator. He was then a member of Rajya Sabha. After becoming the Chief Minister, Antulay contested the Assembly bypoll and won with over 90,000 votes.

In 1986, Ashok Chavan’s father, the late S B Chavan, was a member of Lok Sabha when he came to the state from the Centre and was sworn in as Chief Minister. He later became an MLC.

In 1993, Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar, who is now a member of the Union ministry like Prithviraj Chavan, was sworn in as CM while not member of either House in the state.

When Sushilkumar Shinde became the Chief Minister in 2003, replacing Vilasrao Deshmukh, he was a Lok Sabha member.

-PTI

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