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Maharashtra CM to be from Congress: Pawar

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: October 16, 2004 13:12 IST
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As the election results and trends showed the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine inching towards the half way mark, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that the next chief minister of Maharashtra will be from the Congress.

Also see: Cong-NCP looks set to retain power

The Maratha chieftain, however, added that his party will retain the deputy chief minister's post.

The NCP leader said the Congress will select its leader and the NCP will support the choice. "This is our clear cut thinking," he said.

Talking to reporters at his 6 Janpath residence in Delhi, Pawar said the credit for the alliance's good showing goes to Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. "If you are getting majority, definitely the credit also goes to chief minister," Pawar said.

He, however, ruled out merging his party with the Congress. "We will be happy to keep our separate identity and cooperate with secular forces," he said.

Pawar returned to Delhi late on Friday night.

Asked whether a young Union minister like Prithviraj Chavan could be the next chief minister, he said: "I will be happy...however it is the prerogative of the Congress.

Asked if his joint election rallies with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi helped in dispelling doubts about the differences between the two leaders, Pawar said the Congress-led government in Maharashtra had completed its full tenure and there is no doubt in anyone's mind about the fact that the two parties can work together.
"Of course such things [joint rallies] do help but there are other factors also. The state leadership, the district level leadership and the manner in which the administration was run. We lost a few seats in the Lok Sabha election because the people were not happy with us. But when it came to the state assembly election, the people of Maharashtra gave us their verdict because they realised how well we handled the draught situation in last three and a half years," he said.
He blamed the media for blowing up the threat posed by rebels and the Bahujan Samajvadi Party.

With PTI inputs


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Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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