Prithivraj Chavan to be next Maharashtra CM
Wednesday November 10, 2010 05:30:57 PM,
Prithviraj Chavan, a politician with a clean image and a minister
in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Wednesday vowed to provide
stability to Maharashtra after the Congress picked him as the new
chief minister to succeed the tainted Ashok Chavan.
And in a rarity in
Indian politics, the 64-year-old former engineer's appointment was
immediately hailed by every political party in Maharashtra who
hailed his non-controversial political career that began with a
chance meeting with the late Rajiv Gandhi.
In his first comments, Chavan said he was "highly honoured and
humbled" by Congress president Sonia Gandhi's decision to put him
in charge of Maharashtra, one of India's biggest and most
industrialised states where the Congress shares power with the
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
"I seek the cooperation and support of all, and I promise I will
do my best to give leadership to the state," said the minister of
state in the office of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He said he
would fly to Mumbai soon.
Chavan is widely regarded as a confidant of both Manmohan Singh
and Gandhi with his and his own quiet style of functioning won him
many friends both in the Congress and beyond.
That was more than evident once it became known that Chavan had
been picked for the hot seat in Mumbai over contenders like
Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil.
"It is a good selection, he will revive Maharashtra," said NCP
chief Sharad Pawar, a former chief minister whose shadow always
looms large over the state. "He will have full support of the NCP."
Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar has been chosen to assist Chavan as
deputy chief minister, replacing Chhagan Bhujbal.
Political actors, however, underlined that Chavan would have to
contend with a lot, including the scandal involving Mumbai's
Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society whose flats were cornered by
military officers, officials and politicians when they were meant
for families of soldiers killed in the 1999 Kargil war with
And precisely because he has never been a part of Maharashtra
politics until now, the state's political parties felt he would be
able to steer it to better times.
"We expect him to maintain stability in the state," said Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Madhav Bhandari. "Other Congress
politicians have always brought a bad name to Maharastra. We
expect Chavan's clean image to bring stability."
Samajwadi Party state president Abu Azmi agreed, saying Chavan's
clean image would help develop Maharashtra's backward regions.
Shiv Sena MP Bharatkumar Raut warned: "The state is facing
challenges in all areas. The new chief minister will have to
tackle all these. We expect him to succeed owing to his clean,
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) vice president Vagesh Saraswat
also paid his tributes: "He is well-educated. Hence we expect him
to lead the state to prosperity."
Born March 17, 1946 into a Marathi family in Indore, Chavan is an
engineering graduate from BITS Pilani, Rajasthan, and holds an MS
degree from the University of California specialising in aerospace
He worked in the field of aircraft instrumentation and designed
audio recorders for anti-submarine warfare in the US before
returning to India and becoming an entrepreneur in 1974.
After meeting Rajiv Gandhi, Chavan was soon drawn into politics.
He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991 and entered the
Rajya Sabha in 2002 -- where he is still a member.
Both his parents were MPs from Karad. His father, the late D.R.
Chavan, was a minister in the Jawaharlal Nehru cabinet.
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