Deshmukh indicates he may expand cabinet ''soon''

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Mumbai, Dec 24 (UNI) Faced with an open criticism from Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane over the functioning of his government, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today indicated that he may go in for the long-pending cabinet expansion.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Deshmukh said he would effect the cabinet expansion ''soon''.

When asked to elaborate on the dates, he replied that ''I don't give dates.'' It may be recalled that Mr Rane had blamed Chief Minister without naming him directly and was vehemently critical of the functioning of his government.

Mr Rane had said the state government was not functioning to protect the interest and welfare of the ten crore population of the state but only for the interest of ''one individual''.

Asked about the meeting between Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, Mr Deshmukh chose to downplay it, saying it was ''personal''.

Ruling out the possibility of a tie-up between Mr Pawar's NCP and Shiv Sena, he said for coalition, ideologies have to meet.

Mr Deshmukh did not agree with the view that BJP's victory in neighbouring Gujarat called for an introspection by state Congress leaders, saying such parameters were not applicable only to Maharashtra.

UNI

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