Congress’s outgoing Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has emerged as the front-runner in the race for the top job in the state. Ashok Chavan, who won from Bhokar in Marathwada by a huge margin of over 1 lakh votes, has indicated his keenness for the post. While he spelt out his merits by saying that in the short period of nine months he has “performed”, the other front runners for the post seem to be taking a back seat. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who was brought in by the Congress leadership to replace Vilasrao Deshmukh after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai last year, has the backing of Union Power Minister and former CM Sushilkumar Shinde. The other serious contender for the CM’s post, former Shiv Sena leader and Konkan strongman Narayan Rane is also likely to throw his weight behind Ashok Chavan. Narayan Rane himself has kept himself out of the Chief Ministerial race at the moment, given the Congress middling performance in Konkan. However, Ashok Chavan will be up against Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Union Minister for Heavy Industries, who is testing waters at the moment. Vilasrao Deshmukh has maintained that he is happy with his assignment in Delhi and reportedly has even stated that there is no rule in the Congress about only an MLA being made the Chief Minister. However, in front of the media soon after the results were declared the senior ministers in questions remained quite jovial about the whole political games within the Congress party to attain the highest political office in the state. Take a look at how Sushil Kumar Shinde was the first one to dodge the question on a humorous note. On the other hand, when the media posed the same question to Vilasrao Deshmukh he too decided to circumvent the real question with another joke. The only leader who remained silent during the discussions however seems to be the favorite for the post. Though the final decision on the issue will be taken by Sonia Gandhi, a fresh term as CM Ashok Chavan looks probable as the Congress high commands, specifically Rahul Gandhi is in favor of giving the post of the highest political office of the state to a “young leader”. Zeba Warsia for NMTV News.
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