October 4, 2009 4:28:12 am
Seeking to build bridges with his once bitter rival Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh,apparently with an eye on the chief ministers job,Maharashtra Congress leader Narayan Rane sprang a surprise on Saturday by addressing his first election rally in Deshmukhs pocketborough Latur,lauding Deshmukhs leadership as Maharashtra CM and seeking votes for his son Amit.
The work Vilasrao Deshmukh has done for Laturs development and for Maharashtra in eight years is in front of you, he said at the rally.
The Deshmukh-Rane rivalry has been a rather public affair,ever since the latter,the then revenue minister,attacked Deshmukh for poor governance in December 2007. Rane,who had joined the Congress after deserting the Shiv Sena in 2004 and nursed ambitions of becoming the chief minister,had threatened that the Congress could face reverses in the elections if his grievances were not addressed.
He had rebelled again in December 2008 after he was denied the top job in the state following Deshmukhs ouster in the aftermath of the 26/11 terror attack. He was suspended from the party for his statements against its leadership but it was revoked in February and he was re-inducted into the Ashok Chavan Cabinet.
On Saturday,that rivalry was a thing of the past as he declared that it was only leaders like Manmohan Singh and Vilasrao Deshmukh who had taken steps to ensure that further terror attacks are prevented.
Political observers said Rane seemed to be eyeing the chief ministers job yet again and appeared to be making common cause with Vilasrao,who is not known to be a supporter of Chavan. Earlier in the day,Amit Deshmukh stopped by at Ranes hotel room in Latur before leaving together for the rally,which was nearly washed out by heavy rains.
In a speech peppered with phrases like aamchi (our) Latur and aamcha Vilasrao,the former Shiv Sainik who is contesting from the Kudal Assembly constituency in Konkan said,If Singapore can become a global tourism hub,why not Latur? Vilasrao Deshmukh and I belong to the same party,so when journalists ask whether we are patching up,I ask them whether they want us to keep fighting. Latur and Konkan will now march together towards development.
Rane also took potshots at the Sena-BJP combine,calling their chief ministerial candidate Uddhav Thackeray a novice at administration and governance.
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