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Ashok Chavan leads race for Maharashtra CM's post

Dec 04, 2008 12:43 PM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is out of the race for the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s post and state Industries Minister Ashok Chavan is the frontrunner for the job now, sources tell CNN-IBN. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony will meet Congress MLAs in Mumbai on Thursday to select the new Chief Minister after Vilasrao Deshmukh resigned on Wednesday night following last week's terrorist attack in Mumbai. State politicians Balasaheb Vikhe Patil and Narayan Rane are other names doing the rounds for the post, but it is almost certain that Shinde and Union Minister Prithviraj Chavan are now out of the running. Sources tell CNN-IBN no central minister will be made Chief Minister. Ashok Chavan, the industry minister of Maharashtra, has emerged as the frontrunner. Chavan is an MLA from Nanded and the son of the late S B Chavan, who was twice chief minister of the state. The state’s top political post fell vacant after Deshmukh was asked to resign by his party. "Deshmukh has been asked to resign,” said Antony, who is in charge of Congress’ Maharashtra affairs, in Delhi on Wednesday evening. Deshmukh was under pressure to quit in the aftermath of the November 26 terrorist attack, especially after Shivraj Patil resigned as Union home minister on Sunday, taking moral responsibility for the failure to prevent the terrorist strike, followed by R.R. Patil who had to quit as the state's deputy chief minister and home minister. Called to New Delhi, Deshmukh met Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday and offered his resignation, but the party arrived at the decision only late Wednesday.