An indication to this effect was available on Sunday with a senior party leader and former chief minister, who declined to be identified, making it known that the wishes of the newly elected party MLAs needed to be given weightage while deciding the issue.
"It all depends upon what situation emerges, but the wishes of the newly elected MLAs needed to be given priority," the former Chief Minister, who is himself an aspirant, told PTI.
Chief ministerial candidates are aplenty in Congress in the state. Natinalist Congress Party's line is that the Congress high command has to take a call on the issue and it would support whoever is chosen for the post.
The real picture will emerge by noon of October 22. Most of the Opinion polls and exit polls have predicted that the Congress-NCP coalition is likely to retain power, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine, however, does not agree with the findings.
Incumbent chief minister Ashok Chavan, who has been just 10 months in office, has made it known that he is an aspirant for heading the next government after the polls.
Chavan was in Delhi last week to meet the central party leaders days after the polling was over on October 13. His predecessor and Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has been maintaining that he is 'happy' at the Centre and similar is the line of another Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, whom Deshmukh succeeded as chief minister after the last polls.
Being senior leaders, Deshmukh and Shinde had been entrusted with key responsibilities in the polls. Deshmukh headed the party's Election Management Committee while Shinde the Campaign Committee.
But despite their public postures, the talk in party circles is that they could be in the race for the chief ministership. A section of Congress feels that Union minister Prithviraj Chavan could emerge the dark horse after the polls while Shiv Sainik-turned-Congressman Narayan Rane has not given up his ambition for the top post.
In the campaigning, Rane had gone to Latur to canvass support for Deshmukh's son, Amit. The official line of the All India Congress Committee as elaborated by party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi is that, "Congress follows an established tradition and we don't change it day to day like other parties. Our victory is certain. Thereafter, our MLAs will meet and in close consultation with the high command will elect a leader."
A section in the AICC feels that incumbent Ashok Chavan could have a smooth sailing in retaining the post as the elections have been fought under his leadership as chief minister.
However, another leader of the coalition, who does not want to be named, feels that the Congress high command's decisions are unpredictable. "In 2004, the Congress went to polls with Sushilkumar Shinde as Chief Minister, but selected Deshmukh for the job even after the victory," he remarks.
NCP's National General Secretary Govindrao Adik says that the next Chief Minister will be from the Congress and it is the 'internal matter' of that party.
Image: Incumbent chief minister Ashok Chavan (in the pic) has made it known that he is an aspirant for heading the next government after the polls.