Jubilant Cong left with CM headache


There is no doubt that the next chief minister will be from the Congress, as declared by that party as well as coalition partner, the NCP. Former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh ruled out a non-Congress chief minister saying, “That issue has already been resolved by the high commands of both parties.” That seems to leave the field open for a Congress chief minister. But who? Deshmukh himself is expected to throw his hat in the ring and then there is the incumbent Ashok Chavan who took over from him in December last year after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Then of course, there is Shiv Sena rebel-turned-Congressman Narayan Rane, who is hopeful that at least this time the party high command will keep its promise to make him the chief minister. And then there is the reluctant Sushilkumar Shinde, the Union power minister, who has already made it clear that he is happy in the Centre and does not want to return to the state.

But everyone agrees on one point - that is, all depends on the mercy of the Congress high command. Only Deshmukh has added a rider that the wishes of the elected legislators too should be taken into account while choosing the next chief minister.
“I have performed my role, and the results are there for you to see,” Chavan said, when it became clear that his coalition would come back to power. He thanked the Congress president Sonia Gandhi for “reposing confidence” in him and left the decision for the next chief minister to the high command.

While all three - Chavan, Deshmukh and Shinde - are loyal Congressmen and are unlikely to rebel even if denied the CM post, the high command is not so sure about Rane, who had grumbled over denial of the post. Rane was on the verge of leaving the party, but thanks to last minute intervention by Chavan and the survival instinct, the Sena rebel changed his course and became a loyal Congress minister.

However, the party is still wary of his moves in case he is denied chief ministership again, although he has not made such an overt demand for the post.
In the emerging scenario, the high command may stick to Chavan to avoid any controversies which accompany change of guard, or may also bank upon Shinde’s stature in the state politics.

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