newcmHigh drama continued over electing the new Maharashtra chief minister even as Ashok Chavan, the state industry minister and Congress MLA from Nanded, emerged as the clear favourite for the top post. As more than 50 out of 75 Congress MLAs supported the candidature of Ashok Chavan during their talks with the All India Congress Committee (AICC) observers, Chavan emerged the clear favourite. Even NCP boss and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar also gave his consent to Chavan’s name. Prominent OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal has been chosen as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra by the Sharad Pawar-led NCP but the picture is still hazy as to whom the Congress would nominate for the chief minister’s post. Being the leader of the NCP, Bhujbal automatically becomes the deputy chief minister as the party is a major partner in the Congress-led coalition. The NCP legislature party had met in Mumbai earlier this week and had authorised Pawar to name its leader. 61-year-old Bhujbal was the Deputy Chief Minister in the first Congress-NCP government sworn-in in 1999 but had to quit after a controversy.

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