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Sonia led alliance to victory, says Chavan

By Onkar Singh
October 16, 2004 14:08 IST
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Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan,  considered a potential candidate for the chief ministership of Maharashtra, today said Congress president Sonia Gandhi has led the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance back to power in the state.
Chavan was among the few senior Congress leaders to visit the party headquarters in Delhi situated at 24 Akbar Road in the afternoon, when it became almost certain that the Congress-NCP alliance will sweep back to power. Others who could be seen there were former chief minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot, Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, Tom Waddakan. As news of the results came in, hundreds of Congressmen danced to the beat of drums and burst firecrackers to celebrate the party's imminent victory in the assembly election.
Chavan complimented NCP President Sharad Pawar for putting up a joint fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena. "Pawar is a tall leader of the state and there is no question of challenging him in any manner. He worked along with Congress president Mrs Sonia Gandhi to muster the people's support . The fact the two leaders shared the same platform during some of their rallies also helped us," he said.
Chavan, however, refused to discuss the chief ministership.
"I am not even saying that Sushil Kumar Shinde will return as chief minister. Nor am I saying that I am a candidate or any other leader from Maharashtra is a candidate. A decision in this regard will be taken by the leadership of the Congress party in consultation with the newly elected legislators. A meeting of legislators will be held in Mumbai soon to sort out the issue," he told at the party headquaters.
Chavan admitted that the new government will have to meet enormous challenges, including financial cruch, during the next five years. "We have a backlog of about Rs 100,000 crore in debt. We hope Dr Manmohan Singh's government will bail the state out from the tight situation," he said.
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Onkar Singh