Putting an end to all speculations, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was removed from his chair tonight. State Industry Minister Ashok Chavan is likely to become the next chief minister of the state.
Defence Minister AK Antony, who is in charge of the Congress party’s Maharashtra affairs, informed that Deshmukh has been asked to step down. Antony, along with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, will go to Mumbai tomorrow as observers to attend the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting, which will be held to elect the next chief minister.
Antony today held consultations with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in Delhi on the possible change of guard in Maharashtra. Pawar has already forced his party nominee RR Patil to resign from the deputy chief minister’s post after the three-day terror strikes on Mumbai last week exposed serious security lapses in the state.
Meanwhile, even hours before he was asked to step down, Deshmukh tried to show that he is very much in charge of the state, irrespective of talks about the change of guard in the state.
He held a meeting with senior police and home ministry officials to review security situation in the state. Later he visited the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) which was one of the sites of the brazen terror attacks last week.
In Mumbai, Deshmukh held a meeting of a high-powered committee to review security arrangements. Among those who attended the meeting were Chief Secretary Johny Joseph, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chitkala Jhutshi, Director General of Police AN Roy and Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor.
On Thursday, Deshmukh had even sent out press invitations to announce his government’s measures to beef up costal security.