Prithviraj Chavan gets reprieve – for now

New Delhi/Mumbai: The fate of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is now likely to be decided only after June 28 when state leaders will travel to the national capital for a meeting with the Congress’ central leadership, party sources said Saturday.

The development came in the wake of a series of meetings Chavan held with top party leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her political secretary Ahmed Patel, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former union minister A. K. Antony in New Delhi.

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Two senior state leaders – Shivajirao Deshmukh and Shivajirao Moghe – also met Gandhi while others like state minister Narayan Rane are camping in the capital.

Later, Chavan told media persons that Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad would not be visiting Mumbai presently.

However, he declined to comment on whether he would resign or his resignation has been sought by the party high command.

Speculation about Chavan’s continuance as chief minister was sparked off after Antony and Patel called on ally and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and discussed the post-Lok Sabha poll scenario and the ensuing Maharashtra assembly elections.

“There are different views within the party on this issue. One is that changing the chief minister barely three months before the assembly elections may not benefit the ruling alliance, and other is it would appear succumbing to the NCP on the issue,” said a Congress leader in Mumbai, requesting anonymity.

In the last Lok Sabha elections, the Congress was reduced to two seats while the NCP managed four seats.

Following the Congress-NCP’s worst ever performance in recent years, pressures built up from within and outside to effect a leadership change both in the party and government levels.