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Rane fires land gun at CM, threatens to quit

Mumbai, Aug. 5: Narayan Rane today renewed his campaign against Vilasrao Deshmukh, threatening to resign as revenue minister and saying he would take his complaints against the Maharashtra chief minister to Sonia Gandhi.

The provocation for the fresh salvo by Rane, whom Deshmukh had dubbed a “new bride gradually finding her space in the new family” in May for his frequent gripes, was a land allotment for a planned Videocon unit that will manufacture LCD panels.

Rane, speaking against the allotment of 250 acres by the state-run Cidco for the Rs 8,000-crore project in Navi Mumbai, got into a heated argument with Deshmukh at a cabinet meeting today that cleared the decision, sources said.

Rane, eyeing the chief minister’s post since joining the Congress after his expulsion from the Shiv Sena in 2006, seems to have the support of coalition partner NCP.

Ajit Pawar, NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew and water resources minister, has opposed the allotment. As has party colleague and environment minister Ganesh Naik. It is not known if they voiced their objections at today’s meeting.

Rane hit out at the government he is a part of: “This government is not for the common man but is serving the interests of one man. I will meet the Congress high command soon and offer to resign from the government, which is serving industrialists.”

He alleged that the Cidco land, located close to the proposed new airport, was for residential purposes and should have been auctioned. “It would fetch Rs 3,000 crore but the government is allotting it for Rs 300 crore,” Rane said.

The government believes the LCD plant, a joint venture with Cidco, will generate over 10,000 jobs.

Sonia had ruled out a change of guard when Rane met her a few months ago with complaints against Deshmukh.

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