Congress non-commital on leadership change in Maharashtra

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New Delhi, Sep 21 (UNI) The Congress Party today sought to downplay the crisis in the Maharashtra unit of the party where there is news of a revolt demanding removal of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in the wake of his alleged anti-farmer remarks.

"There was an allegation. But the Chief Minister has clarified his position," AICC Spokesman Abishek Manu Singhvi told reporters who wanted to know if there was a move towards a change of guard in the party-ruled Maharashtra.

"As far as the Chief Minister is concerned, he had officially stated that he was not quitting." To persistent questions on change of leadership in Maharashtra, he said "all your queries are hypothetical...There is no such issue. It is there only in your fertile imagination." A group of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) office bearers, including MPCC President Prabha Rau, have had a series of meetings in Delhi with Congress President Sonia Gandhi reportedly to press for Deshmukh's removal.

There were reports that AICC General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra Margaret Alva has also been in support of the demand.

Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane has reportedly met Party High Command in regard to the leadership issue.

According to party sources, there was a thinking in the party in favour of shifting Union Power minister Shushilkumar Sinde to Maharashtra to replace Mr Deshmukh.

UNI

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