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Pawar flexing muscles,Cong opens door to Rane

The Congress party has decided to revoke the suspension of Narayan Rane in order to put up a united front.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Mumbai | Published: February 16, 2009 9:08 pm

With Maratha strongman and NCP chief Sharad Pawar flexing his muscles ahead of seat-sharing talks with the Congress in Maharashtra,the party on Monday decided to revoke the suspension of Narayan Rane in order to put up a united front in the state.

Rane met Congress president Sonia Gandhi soon after his suspension was revoked. Sources said the former Maharashtra chief minister may join the state Government.

“I will fulfill whatever responsibility the Congress president gives me,” he told The Indian Express. “I will do my best for the Congress.”

The process for Rane’s return was set in motion a fortnight ago when he met A K Antony,in-charge of the Maharashtra unit of the party,and Ahmed Patel,political secretary to Sonia. Rane was learnt to have ‘regretted’ his outbursts against the Congress leadership at the meeting.

As reported by The Indian Express earlier,the decision to revoke Rane’s suspension had been taken soon after the meeting.

Rane had been suspended from the party after his outbursts against Sonia following the party decision to not give him the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister in December last year. Instead it brought in Ashok Chavan to replace Vilasrao Deshmukh,who quit following the Mumbai terror attacks.

Since then,Pawar had been trying to woo Rane to the NCP fold. At a meeting between the two last month,he reportedly offered Rane a central role if he joined the NCP.

While the Pawar factor may have played a role in the Congress’s decision to reinstate Rane,by holding out on him for two months,it has also sent a message to the outspoken former chief minister to mend his ways.

Much as Rane projected himself as a leader to reckon with in the state,talking of forming a new party,he is seen as a largely regional leader restricted to his native Sindhudurg. Lately,even loyalists had started leaving his side.

Chief Minister Chavan on Monday refused to confirm if Rane would be inducted into the Cabinet,hinting it could take some time and saying he would talk to the high command on the matter. Incidentally,he is visiting New Delhi on Tuesday to inaugurate a statue of Chatrapati Shahu.

Rane may insist on his elder son Nilesh getting the ticket for the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Lok Sabha seat and also on his supporters getting ministerial berths.

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