Transparency and a political will to take tough decisions would be the challenges before the Maharashtra government, Prithviraj Chavan, the State's new Chief Minister, told a press conference here on Thursday.

Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, who succeeds Ashok Chavan in the wake of the Adarsh society scam, was speaking to journalists at the State Secretariat before assuming office.

“I have seen the constraints of a coalition government. Drawing from my experience and gathering everyone's support, with a new hope and willpower, we will run the State's administration, where transparency will be the focal point,” Mr. Prithviraj Chavan said.

He underlined the need for “a political will to take tough decisions” and said the selection of his Cabinet would be based on “a clean image.”

“I have been bestowed with a huge responsibility owing to special circumstances. Maharashtra has progressed a lot. Now, it's time to take the State on a higher growth path than that of the nation. The challenge of inclusive growth is before the State and the country. Prosperity of only one particular section [of society] is unacceptable. We have the means, know-how and manpower, but do we have the political will to take tough decisions?”

However, confronted with a barrage of questions on his action against erring bureaucrats and officials in the Adarsh society scam, the Chief Minister remained tight-lipped.

“Tough decisions are never easy and the Congress team, which will be put in place, will try to take those decisions and work out solutions.”

He refused to comment on the controversy saying that nothing could be said before the inquiry report on the matter was out.

Laying out the problems plaguing the State, the Chief Minister outlined a vision of social equality.

“The challenge before us is that every child should get good education, each person should get opportunities for employment, house and excellent healthcare facilities. There are issues in agriculture, power and infrastructure. All concerns are important; some need urgent solutions, some long-term, like regional imbalance and agriculture. Maharashtra has the capability to reach the epitome of prosperity. However, on the one hand you have a growing number of millionaires even as malnutrition [cases] are on the rise for no reason. There are many issues. With the right policy decisions and with help from the Centre we can go about resolving them. Bringing about social equality in the State will is a challenge.”

On the November 26, 2008, multiple terror strikes he said while Mumbai had overcome the tragedy, the threat of terrorism was far from over.

Maharashtra's new Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the State got two new heads after difficult political churnings.

As a result, “people's expectations are running high. It's important that there is transparency,” he said.

Mr. Pawar said he was well-versed with the issues in Maharashtra, having worked with the former Chief Ministers. “A prolonged monsoon has harmed our crops. In Mumbai, problems of infrastructure and of slum dwellers [need to be addressed],” he said.

He said the State was set to benefit from Mr. Prithviraj Chavan's experience at the Centre.