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   For several years now there has been some confusion... (December 22, 1987)

For several years now there has been some confusion as to whether Mr. S. B. Chavan is staying as Maharashtra's chief minister or not. So I asked a political correspondent with whom I am acquainted about this: "Is Mr. Chavan staying or going?"

"He is going, but he may stay, it all depends on the position taken by the Congress working committee, though the mater does not come under the purview of the working committee and eventually legislature party," the political correspondent said.

"Then he is definitely not going?" I asked.

"I would not say that," the political correspondent said. "the dissident movement against him is very strong, as may be realised by the resignation of the Ahmednagar MLAs. Mr. Chavan will find it increasingly difficult to face this."

"Then he is not staying?" I asked.

"I see no reason why he should not finish his term," the corespondent said. "He has the support of the Marathwada MLAs and the high command itself has not made up its mind on Mr. Chavan's going."

"Then you think he is staying?" I asked.

"I do not think so," the correspondent said. "The prime minister is understood to be wanting a change in the Maharashtra leadership, as a part of his overall desire to streamline the party functioning in the states to meet the drought challenge. More than one head may roll in the process.

"Then he won't be staying?" asked.

"We can't assume that. He may stay because Mr. Gandhi does not believe in changing his chief minister every time there is a little pressure on them. Besides, Mr. Chavan's record in the state has been quite good, except for a few minor shortcomings here and there. He could see through this term and the next also."

"Then you are certain that he is staying?" I asked.

"I would be if I did not take into account the Vasantdada factor," the correspondent said. "As you no doubt are aware, Mr. Patil still commands a bank of votes, though maybe only in Western Maharashtra, with a few pockets in Vidarbha. A lot also depends on what position Sharadji will take, what we refer to as the Pawar factor. He could topple the chief minister any time."

"Then it means that he is not staying," I asked.

"Well, he may manage to stay. There is absolutely no reason why not," the correspondent said. "You must remember, the working committee is not quite convinced about the dissidents case and Mr. Chavan is after all the centre's candidate. With its sanction behind him, there is absolutely no reason why he should not stay."

So, I finally said: "I am afraid it is not clear to me: is Mr. Chavan staying or going?"

The political correspondent said: "For three years I have been writing on that subject and you say it is still not clear to you! He is staying, but he may go."

 
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