The Bharatiya Janata Party has emerged as the largest party in the Maharashtra elections.
But with the BJP stopping short of a majority and exploring the option of resuming ties with its traditional ally in the state, the Shiv Sena, the question doing the rounds is -- Who will be the next Maharashtra chief minister?
Following are the possible contenders for the post of Maharashtra CM. We request our readers to take the poll at the end of this list.
Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis is said to be the frontrunner to the chief minister’s post.
Chants of ‘Kendrat Narendra, Rajyat Devendra’ (Narendra at the Centre and Devendra in the state) by BJP workers during the election campaign indicate the party’s first choice.
It was reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed BJP president Amit Shah that he wanted Fadnavis to be the next CM of the state if BJP got a majority.
Fadnavis served as the youngest Mayor of Nagpur and has been Member of the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra, representing Nagpur, since, 1999.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray took over the reins of the party from his father Bal Thackeray in 2004. He has managed to hold his own and not let the party’s influence decline after his father’s death.
Two days before the deadline for filing of nominations for the Assembly elections, the BJP and Shiv Sena called off its 25-year-old alliance in the state. Uddhav Thackeray accused the BJP of backstabbing his party.
But if the exit polls are to be believed, the Shiv Sena is likely to emerge as the second largest party in the polls. It is said that the number of seats Thackeray would win could be better than what any party has won in an alliance.
Leader of opposition in the Legislative Council, Vinod Tawde is another of BJP’s CM post aspirants.
A young face in the party, Tawde contested the Assembly elections from suburban Borivali constituency in Mumbai.
Even though he has not expressed his wish for the top post, he is considered to be one of the competitors.
In a speech, Tawde had said he would want to be the state Home Minister if the BJP forms the government in the state.
A former leader of opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, Eknath Khadse is among the frontrunners for the Maharashtra chief minister post.
Khadse is a prominent leader in Maharashtra and was elected to the state assembly in 1989.
Khadse, who hails from Jalgaon district, started out as a ‘sarpanch’ (head) of a village and went on to become finance minister in the earlier Shiv Sena-BJP government.
During a poll campaign he had said that the demand of the people of Khandesh for a leader from north Maharashtra to become chief minister was genuine.
‘Why be the deputy CM when you can be chief minister?’ Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar had once said. It’s no secret that the former deputy chief minister has nurtured chief ministerial ambitions.
Popularly known as ‘Dada’, Ajit Pawar has worked his way up from the grassroots.
The nephew of Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar entered politics in 1982 after a brief stint in the film industry.
In 1991, he became the president of the Pune District Co-operative Bank. Soon he graduated to the bigger stage and was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Baramati constituency.
Congress leader Narayan Rane has been eying the chief minister's post for some time now.
The party’s poll campaign committee chief contested the Assembly polls from the Kudal seat in Sindhudurg.
When asked during his poll campaign about the party's poll advertisements prominently featuring Prithviraj Chavan and virtually projecting him as the chief ministerial candidate, Rane said the ads depict Chavan when he was in office and not as CM candidate.
Rane joined the Shiv Sena in his early twenties and began his political journey as a ‘shakha pramukh’. He rose up the party ranks but was expelled in 2005 over differences with the leadership. He then joined the Congress.
Rane had criticised former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for his way of functioning and submitted his resignation as the Maharashtra Industries Minister before the Assembly polls.
The daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, Pankaja Munde’s name has been doing the rounds for the top post. If made CM she will be the state’s first woman chief minister.
Her father, though a Union minister, was considered to be a strong contender for the CM’s post, but his untimely death pushed Pankaja’s name among the CM candidates in the BJP.
Pankaja launched a Sangharsh Yatra in Maharashtra to establish her leadership.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has said that he would take on the post of chief minister if his party gets a majority in this Assembly election. But the Exit polls results are not so encouraging for the MNS.
Raj Thackeray urged the people of Maharashtra to vote for a single regional party to end the coalition concept in the state. He said in the last 25 years the state had not progressed because of coalition governments.
After a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, Raj Thackeray had declared himself as the chief ministerial candidate of his party for the Maharashtra Assembly elections.
A day after the Nationalist Congress Party ended its 15-year-old alliance with the Congress in Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan resigned as chief minister.
The NCP had accused Chavan of neglecting it and stalling talks over seat-sharing.
But there were hints from Congress leaders that the ex-chief minister would resume his office if the Congress comes to power. Chavan has long been criticised for lacking a mass base.
Chavan, who contested the Assembly election from Karad south, expressed confidence that the people of Maharashtra would continue to support the Congress.
He said the circumstances under which the elections were held were different from the past, as there had been a change of government at the Centre and all alliances had broken up in Maharashtra.
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