Deshmukh to discuss cabinet reshuffle with leadership

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New Delhi, Oct 4 (UNI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh is scheduled to discuss with congress High Command a reshuffle of his cabinet, putting to rest all speculation regarding change of guard in the state where a section of party leaders had been demanding his removal following his reported anti-farmer remarks. ''Cabinet reshuffle will be only after the 'Pitra Paksh,' ''he told newsmen after his brief meeting with AICC General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra Margaret Alva at the party headquarters here.

Asked how soon the cabinet would be recast in Maharashtra, Ms Alva said, ''I have no comment to make .'' She, however, said later that "it (reshuffle) has to happen.'' Mr Deshmukh said his visit was mainly to congratulate the new AICC functionaries.

He said he met Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and urged him to implement the decision to increase the percentage of ethanol in petrol by ten per cent from the present five per cent in order to help the sugarcane farmers.

''The minister has agreed to look into my request," Mr Deshmukh said. Mr Deshmukh will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her Political Secretary Ahmed Patel tomorrow.

He has also sought an appointment to meet new AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Mr Deshmukh met Home Minister Shivraj Patil and AICC General Secretaries Mohsina Kidwai and Digvijay Singh earlier in the day.

Asked if there was a move to remove Mr Deshmukh, Ms Alva said, ''You people write first and then ask us to comment on what you say.'' Asked what would be the future of the present state Chief Minister, Mr Deshmukh said, ''Let that be some news for you least you remember me.'' Asked if there would be a change of guard in Congress-led government in Maharashtra, he said, ''I have not heard of anything...nobody told me.'' UNI

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