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‘There are reasons for the loss of faith’

Ashok Chavan

Ashok Chavan  

Meena Menon

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on the ‘multiple tasks’ and key issues before him

Nagpur: Catapulted into the Chief Minister’s chair following the November 26 terror attacks in Mumbai, Ashok Shankarrao Chavan has come up with several measures to restore the people’s confidence. “There are reasons why there is the loss of faith and naturally after the bomb blasts and firing this reaction is bound to be there,” Mr. Chavan told The Hindu in an interview during the winter session of the legislature in Nagpur. “There seems to have been an intelligence failure and people feel let down.”

Maharashtra’s 50-year-old Chief Minister highlighted the fact that the government has constituted a State Security Council to coordinate action on various critical issues. A high-level committee will probe the lapses, if any, of senior police and Home officials and fix responsibility. Funds have been sanctioned for the modernisation and upgrading of police weaponry and for better intelligence work. The State is also planning to raise an elite battalion, complete with dedicated aircraft, on the lines of the National Security Guards.

Asked about the status of the Malegaon bomb blast investigation, Mr. Chavan responded: “The investigation will continue as before. I am not thinking of making any changes at the moment. We are investigating the case on the lines of a terror attack and it will continue and the guilty will not be spared.”

The Chief Minister recognised that he faced “multiple tasks,” including the political responsibility of strengthening the party by “handling the challenges just before elections” and focussing on law and order, “the immediate priority,” on the administrative front. Other challenges were tackling the power shortages in the State and “the backlog of development of backward regions in the State.”

Asked about continuing farmers’ suicides, Mr. Chavan said he had reviewed the farmers’ packages in Vidarbha after he took charge and found that “the suicides have come down in a small way but not as expected.” He acknowledged that “we need some long-term strategy and action plan.”

On Raj Thackeray’s demand for job reservation for locals only, the Chief Minister commented that “the Constitution of India is clear on this and that will be our guiding principle.”

Asked about his core values as a politician, the Chief Minister said he cherished the ideal of his father S.B. Chavan, twice Chief Minister of the State and a former Union Home Minister. However, he is conscious that in a coalition era different skills are required to maintain a balance, especially during the run-up to State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

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