Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday said the Congress central leadership has made it clear that the Assembly elections in the state will be fought under his leadership and therefore there was no question of projecting anyone as the CM candidate.
“It’s very clear that I am going to lead the state elections. There is no question of projecting anybody for the chief ministerial candidate. I am already holding the CM post,” Chavan told The Indian Express, and admitted that the Assembly polls, slated for October, posed a big challenge. “The results of Lok Sabha elections (Congress had won only two seats in the state) have demoralised the party. Now, my job is to build the confidence.”
Claiming the “prolonged criticisms” against his government was a ploy to dislodge him, he alleged it was done “in connivance with some central leaders of the party”.
He also refuted the criticisms of “policy paralysis” and said he had taken maximum number of decisions that were kept in abeyance by successive governments and chief ministers in the past.
Underplaying the rebellion that was recently led by his Industries Minister Narayan Rane, the CM said, “The matter is all over as Rane is continuing in the Congress and government.” He, however, refused to comment on whether Rane will get a greater role in during the election campaign.
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On the seat-sharing talks with alliance partner NCP, he said “the thrust would be on smart swapping of seats than number game”, and added that anti-incumbency could be higher against individuals and not necessary against his government. He indicated that the possibility of dropping 10-11 seating MLAs out of 82 cannot be ruled out.
He also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s magic will not work in the Assembly polls. “In Assembly polls, people know that they are not going to vote for Modi. And that is where the Congress can make a difference along with its alliance partner NCP,” he added.