Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan's fate hangs in the balance as Congress president Sonia Gandhi formed a high-ranking two-member committee of the party to look into all aspects of Mumbai's Adarsh cooperative housing society scam.
Summoned by Gandhi after the names of his close relatives surfaced in the scam, Chavan offered to resign during his meeting with her. Union Minister A K Antony, who is also in charge of Maharashtra, and Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel were also present.
"I offer my resignation. I leave it to you to take a final view on this," Chavan said he told Gandhi. On Friday, he had said there was no reason for him to resign.
Congress circles see the formation of the committee, comprising party heavyweights Pranab Mukherjee and Antony as temporary relief for Chavan. Already, the BJP has demanded his resignation.
The final decision on Chavan will be taken after the committee submits its report on the scam that has left the Congress red-faced, though reliable sources said at this stage it is difficult to predict which way the matter will go.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on his way back from his three-nation visit, refused to comment on the issue: "I am not familiar with all facts of this case... I will find out the facts. Only then I will be able to make any meaningful comment.''
A decision on Chavan's fate is expected to be taken after the November 2 AICC session. This is followed by Diwali on November 5 and US President Barack Obama's Mumbai visit the next day.
Mukherjee and Antony would not only study Chavan's role but also of other state leaders, including Sushilkumar Shinde, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Narayan Rane, whose names have cropped up in the scam. Shinde and Deshmukh are former CMs during whose tenures the project was given shape.
Already three names - Union Ministers Mukul Wasnik, Prithviraj Chavan and Gurudas Kamat - are in circulation to replace Chavan.
The scam has caught the Congress on the wrong foot. As the head of a coalition government in Maharashtra, the party is aware the issue would give a handle to the opposition to attack it.
Besides providing the BJP and the Shiv Sena with ammunition in Maharashtra, party leaders feel that Sharad Pawar's NCP, its alliance partner, would also try to take political mileage.
In Parliament, the government will face heat over the corruption in the Commonwealth Games and the 2G-spectrum allocation.