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Deshmukh sworn in Chief Minister of Maharashtra

By Our Special Correspondent

MUMBAI, NOV. 1. Vilasrao Deshmukh was today sworn in Chief Minister of Maharashtra by the Governor, Mohammad Fazal, at a brief ceremony in the Raj Bhavan. The National Congress Party's, R.R. Patil, took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister.

Mr. Deshmukh and Mr. Patil then visited the memorials of B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi at Chaitya Bhoomi and Mani Bhavan.

Mr. Deshmukh later told a press conference that the other members of the Cabinet would be inducted on Wednesday. He would soon leave for New Delhi to consult the party high command.

Parrying questions about the details, he said that neither the Congress nor the NCP had any problem about the selection of Ministers.

The State Legislature will meet for a three-day session in Mumbai from November 4 to swear in the new members, elect the new Speaker and hold the Governor's address to the joint session of the Assembly and the Legislative Council. The full-fledged session will begin in Nagpur on December 6.

Mr. Deshmukh said he was taking over at a trying period and that his priority was to reduce the State's debt burden.

Many challenges

Ending of the monopoly over cotton procurement following a good crop in Vidarbha and north Maharashtra and the provision of drinking water were other challenging areas, he said but did not see the need to issue a white paper on the State's financial health as the Democratic Front Government had done when it took over in 1999.

Denying that the Shinde Government had taken populist measures such as debt relief and free power to farmers, Mr. Deshmukh said they were "necessary" measures.

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