Congress seeks new Maharashtra chief minister

November 9th, 2010 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 9 (IANS) The Congress was in the hunt Tuesday for a new chief minister of Maharashtra after a disgraced Ashok Chavan stepped down over his involvement in a housing scandal.

With Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A.K. Antony leaving for Mumbai to consult Congress legislators, Congress sources said a decision would be taken by end of Wednesday.

They said Mukherjee and Antony, who is in charge of Maharashtra in the Congress, will meet the legislators in Mumbai to ascertain their views on the choice of the next chief minister.

“A decision is expected by tomorrow,” a senior Congress leader told IANS

Though no clear indications are available on Chavan’s successor, several names are doing the rounds.

These include union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan and prominent Maharashtra leaders like Narayan Rane, Balasaheb Thorat and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, the sources said.

Mukherjee and Antony attended a meeting at the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday evening to decide the party’s strategy for the winter session of parliament.

The opposition has come down hard on the Congress and its government over corruption allegations involving Chavan and Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi, who is under a cloud over shoddy work and misappropriation of Commonwealth Games funds.

Mukherjee and Antony were earlier asked by Gandhi to look into Chavan’s role in the Adarsh Housing Society. Its flats were given away to politicians, bureaucrats and military officers though they were meant for families of soldiers killed in the Kargil war with Pakistan.

Chavan was told by the party to step down, soon after US President Obama left India at the end of a four-day visit.

He submitted his resignation to Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, who asked him to continue till a successor was appointed.

“Pending inquiry, his offer of resignation has been accepted,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told IANS in the national capital.

Chavan offered to quit Oct 30 when he met Sonia Gandhi after the scandal erupted. One of those who has acquired a flat is said to be Chavan’s mother-in-law.

Chavan, however, claimed he was innocent. He said in Mumbai: “Everything will come out in the open after the inquiry. My innocence will be provedÂ… I still enjoy the confidence of my leader (Gandhi).”

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