Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan has been named the next Maharashtra Chief Minister. Prithviraj Chavan’s name was formally announced by senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, after a meeting with the Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence. With the name of leader after senior Congress leader cropping up in connection with the Adarsh Housing society scam, the Congress’ choice has been limited, especially given that the party is in clean-up mode after battling several corruption scandals. In such situation, Prithviraj Chavan was the best choice with his efficient and clean image. The fact that he is close to and is valued by both the Prime Minister and the Congress President weighed heavily in his favour. Prithviraj Chavan is 64 years old and comes from an old, loyal Congress family. He is a Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra, but has contested and won Lok Sabha elections in the past from Karad in Maharashtra. Prithviraj Chavan has hitherto held several key assignments in the Congress cabinet at the Centre and has handled crucial tasks. He was closely involved in the passage of the Indo-US Nuclear deal, is monitoring important CBI cases and is currently Minister of State not only in the PMO, but also in the Science and Technology, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Parliamentary Affairs ministries. The fact that Chavan is a Maratha also adds weight to his candidature. Marathas are the dominant caste in Maharashtra and the Congress will hope that Chavan will manage power equations with ally NCP – helmed by Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar. Prithviraj Chavan is from Karad in western Maharashtra and is a strong opponent of Sharad Pawar. However, since PrithvirajChavan is seen more as a Delhi man and has no mass base in Maharashtra, building a relationship with the Congress MLAs will be his immediate challenge and task. Prithviraj Chavan will also have to work to turn around the perception of deep-rooted corruption in a coalition that has now ruled for a decade. After the Congress picked Prithvirah Chauhan as new Chief Minister, its ally NCP too made changes in leadership and replaced Chaggan Bhujbal with Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar as the Deputy Chief Minister. At a meeting of his party’s MLAs in Mumbai, Ajit Pawar was able to prove support of 50 of the party’s 60 MLAs. Bureau report – NMTV News.
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