While the Congress camp has many contenders for the Maharashtra chief minister's post, its ally -- Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party -- on Tuesday threw its hat into the ring and mooted a new proposal to share the CM's chair in Maharashtra.
Chhagan Bhujbal, senior NCP leader and deputy chief minister in the outgoing Maharashtra government, said if the alliance was voted back to power, the two partners should get equal opportunity to share the top post.
Mooting the rotation method for the first-time in the alliance arrangement, Bhujbal said, "In case the Congress-NCP government is voted back to power, the Congress and the NCP should share the chief minister's post for two-and-a-half years each."
The Congress leadership, however, doesn't see any merit in this proposal and is keen to keep the CM's post for the party. "We don't think the seat-sharing arrangement can be a viable solution in forming a stable government in Maharashtra. We are confident about retaining the CM's chair with us," a senior Congress minister said.
Bhujbal's proposal comes at a time when several contenders have popped up in the Congress camp to stake claim to the CM's post after the October 13 assembly polls. Apart from incumbent Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who was installed after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, former chief minister and currently Union Minister for Heavy Industries Vilasrao Deshmukh is also in the fray. Another central minister -- former CM Sushil Kumar Shinde -- is also keen to go back to the state. The latest addition in this list has been state Congress chief Manikrao Thackeray. His followers have popped up his name after the polls.
In 2004, the NCP emerged as the largest party and the Congress got two seats less than it. But the Congress managers prevailed upon the NCP and managed to get the CM's post. Key portfolios like home, finance and Public Works Department, however, went to the NCP. Sharad Pawar's party also got the deputy CM's post.