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Prithviraj Chavan is new Maharashtra Chief Minister

Smita Gupta

Ajit Pawar to be his deputy; swearing-in today

— Photos: PTI & Vivek Bendre

NEW HELMSMEN:Maharashtra Chief Minister-designate Prithviraj Chavan arrives to a tumultuous welcome in Mumbai late on Wednesday night.

New Delhi: Prithviraj Chavan will be sworn in as the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra on Thursday, ending 10 days of political uncertainty in the State.

The impasse was triggered by Ashok Chavan's “offer” on October 30 to quit over a real estate scam that has since also placed the activities of a group of former generals and top bureaucrats under the scanner.

Mr. Prithviraj Chavan — as he made the last rounds of Parliament House on Wednesday of what has been his stomping ground since 1991, when he was first elected as a Lok Sabha MP from Karad — told journalists that his priority would be to bring in a “transparent administration.” He, however, refused to comment on how he planned to deal with the Adarsh Housing Society scam.

Asked about her message for Maharashtra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi told journalists, “The message has already gone.”



Ajit Pawar of the NCP addresses a press conference after he was chosen by his party for Deputy Chief Minister.

In a day of swiftly moving events, the Chief Minister-designate's first meeting on Wednesday was with Ms. Gandhi, followed by one with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the two leaders he has worked most closely with in the last six and a half years. He expressed his gratitude to both leaders later while speaking to journalists, saying he was “honoured and humbled” by the responsibility given to him.Mr. Prithviraj Chavan also met Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, whose Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is in alliance with the Congress in Maharashtra. The meeting assumes significance, given the uneasy relationship the two Maratha leaders share.

However, after the meeting, Mr. Pawar, paying a tribute to his younger colleague, said he had a “good reputation,” and he was sure he would be able to “revive” Maharashtra.

The State is also going to get a new Deputy Chief Minister — the NCP's Chagan Bhujbal is to be replaced by Ajit Pawar, Mr. Sharad Pawar's nephew.

Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, asked about his equation with Mr. Pawar, said it was not true that they did not get along. “We have our own party, they have their own party. We are trying to grow on our own as a national party,” he said.

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