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Chief Minister’s Job in Jeopardy, Say Sources

The agenda of a meeting in Delhi was to discuss the possible replacement of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, said sources.

Mr Chavan, 68, heads a coalition government of his party, the Congress, and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party or NCP.

Mr Pawar met the Congress’ AK Antony and Ahmed Patel, the powerful political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and both sides reportedly confirmed that their state legislators are seeking a change in leadership.

The Congress-NCP partnership has governed Maharashtra since 1999. In the national election last month, it was decimated by the BJP-Shiv Sena combine. State elections are due in Maharashtra in the next few months, and NCP legislators are allegedly worried about a repeat performance.

Just days ago, when asked to comment on reports of his imminent dismissal, an unperturbed Mr. Chavan told that the same rumours have been doing the rounds for “four years.”

But sources say that Mr. Pawar’s party is keen on him being replaced by Sushil Kumar Shinde, former union Home Minister.

Other names under discussion for chief ministership are the state’s Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat and Vikhe Patil, Maharashtra’s Agricultural Minister.

Mr. Chavan’s clean image was the primary reason for him being made Chief Minister in 2010. He replaced Ashok Chavan, who allegedly colluded with bureaucrats and retired defence officers to appropriate apartments meant for war veterans and their families in a high-rise building in the heart of Mumbai.

He has, however, been repeatedly accused by top leaders of the NCP of taking too long to make key decisions.

Sources also say that the Congress is looking at a leadership change in two other states – Assam and Haryana. Assembly elections are due later this year in Haryana.

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