The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM fate hangs on Maharashtra Cong facelift

New Delhi, Jan. 12: Maharashtra Congress leaders have stepped up political activities as the party high command signalled its intention to soon undertake a “surgical” exercise to “improve the image” of the party-led Democratic Front government in the state.

State Congress president Govindrao Adik rushed to the capital on being summoned by the Central leadership to discuss ways of improving the government’s image.

Adik has been in the news for some time for demanding the replacement of chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

After consultations with AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra affairs Vayalar Ravi, Adik said he gave his views on improving the government image.

He denied rumours that he had offered to resign on Thursday night in view of his differences with Deshmukh.

The state Congress chief, who returned to Mumbai on Friday, will be back in the capital tomorrow for further discussions with the party leadership. When contacted, Ravi, too, dismissed the rumours, though sources in the AICC claimed that the party high command had rejected Adik’s resignation offer on Thursday.

Ravi, however, confirmed the party leadership’s move to bring about changes in the government. The changes will not affect the ministers from coalition partners, he said. However, he was evasive when asked about Deshmukh’s fate.

Sources said the chief minister, too, had offered to come here to take part in the talks but was advised by Ravi to stay put in the state. However, Deshmukh has been asked to come up with proposals to improve the government’s image. The sources said he might come to the capital next week.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the sources added, is devising ways to improve the image of Congress governments in two other states — Rajasthan and Karnataka.

The high command is considering a change of party leadership in the two states and a revamp of ministries.

A new Karnataka Congress president is likely to be named over the next four to five days. Ravi, who is also in charge of Karnataka, said he had forwarded to Sonia a shortlist of four candidates for the job.

In Rajasthan, Gehlot is almost certain to retain his job despite speculations to the contrary. But his ministry will get a new look. AICC insiders say the high command might ask the chief minister to appoint one or two deputy chief ministers.

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