Thursday, Aug 29, 2002
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By Mahesh Vijapurkar
Meanwhile, Rohidas Patil, Congress Minister for Parliamentary Affairs clarified that any support to any person was not individual-specific. He said the support of Independents and smaller parties was primarily to the multi-party Democratic Front and then to the Congress.
The support of the smaller parties and individual independents is crucial for the survival of the Government in which the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party are the main parties. They said today that their support was to Mr. Deshmukh and not the Cong.-led multi-party front and said it was extended with the intent of avoiding a crisis when some MLAs defected and the Peasants & Workers' Party withdrew support. They released a statement to this effect.
The Ministers are: Dashrath Bhande (BRP-Bahujan Mahasangh), Harshawardan Deshmukh (both Cabinet rank), Ajit Ghorpade, Sanjay Deshmukh, Shivajirao Kardile, Dharamram Atram (Gondwana Party), Ramdas Bodke (BRP-BM), Digambar Bagal, Vinayak Jadhav (all Ministers of State) and two MLAs, Vasant Suryavanshi (BRP-BM) and Vasant Itkalwar. Their contention was that the support was extended "because we have confidence'' in Mr. Deshmukh and now "we understand that some effort by a few to dislodge him has commenced. In the event there is a change in the leadership, it does not mean our support can be taken for granted'' for the multi-party front Government. There was a strong suggestion in the ruling political circles here that Mr. Deshmukh may be replaced if and when a successor is decided upon to prepare the party for the next round of elections due in 2004, and this move by the Ministers in his Government has only added grist to the political mill.
Sources described this bout of anxiety shown by the Ministers and two MLAs, all of them recently taken into the Government except for Mr. Bhande he was inducted some months ago as "premature'' since Sonia Gandhi, AICC chief, has not yet picked or announced a successor nor any specific steps for a change.
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