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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
New Maharashtra chief appointed
By Zubair Ahmed
BBC correspondent in Mumbai

Congress president Sonia Gandhi
Congress president Sonia Gandhi helped forge the deal
The political deadlock following polls in the powerful western Indian state of Maharashtra has been resolved with the appointment of a chief minister.

Vilasrao Deshmukh of the Congress party has been given the top post, with National Congress Party (NCP) leader, RR Patil, his deputy chief minister.

The coalition won the poll two weeks ago but argued over which party should get the top post.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar forged the deal.

Sources say the swearing-in ceremony may happen on Sunday.

The cabinet will be announced in a few days' time.

Secret ballot

Mr Deshmukh was chief minister in Maharashtra until two years ago.

Senior Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad, announced Mr Deshmukh's appointment on Friday evening.

His deputy, Mr Patil, beat four other challengers, including outgoing deputy chief minister, Vijaysingh Mohite Patil, and a powerful but controversial local party leader, Chhaggan Bhujbal, to the new deputy post.

Unlike in Congress, where the leader's name is proposed and then endorsed by elected members of the assembly, the NCP members elected Mr Patil through a secret ballot.

The coalition beat an alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena in the election.

However, wrangling then ensued because the NCP won two more seats than Congress and argued it should have the top post.

Congress refused to concede and after nine days of haggling, a deal was struck on Wednesday with Congress giving two more cabinet seats to the NCP.

Maharashtra is a powerful political prize, with its capital Mumbai (Bombay) the home of India's film industry and its financial centre.

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