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Sushil Kumar Shinde emerges frontrunner to succeed Maharashtra CM

December 01, 2008 14:28 IST
Last Updated: December 01, 2008 15:45 IST

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Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who has offered to resign in the aftermath of terror attacks in Mumbai.

Considered to be a loyalist of the Gandhi family, Shinde had succeeded Deshmukh towards the end of the tenure of the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in 2003.

Shinde met Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] today morning soon after Deshmukh announced that he had offered to quit as chief minister at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Saturday.

Besides Shinde, the name of Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan is doing the rounds in party circles as a possible successor to Deshmukh. When contacted, Shinde refused to comment on the political developments in Maharashtra.

"No comments," was his constant refrain to a volley of questions from reporters. Shinde is talked about as a possible successor as he is known to have a good rapport with leaders of the coalition partner NCP, including its chief Sharad Pawar [Images].

The search for Deshmukh's successor has gained urgency as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil resigned today; a day after Shivraj Patil [Images] was eased out as Union Home Minister. Gandhi also met Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister and in-charge of party affairs in Maharashtra A K Antony and senior party leader Ahmed Patel today.

"A coalition government is there (in Maharashtra) and we have to consult the allies. Consultations are on. At this point, I cannot say anything. I can say something later today or tomorrow," Antony told reporters after the meeting.

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