Congress is likely to choose a Maratha leader to succeed Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan who resigned on Tuesday in the wake of the Adarsha housing scam.
The names of Union Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Maharashtra Minister Balasaheb Thorat are doing the rounds as possible successors to Ashok Chavan ahead of the meeting in Mumbai of Congress Legislature Party to elect a new leader. Both the leaders are from dominant Maratha community.
Both the leaders are from Western Maharashtra, the stronghold of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. While Prithviraj Chavan is from Karad in Satara district, Thorat hails from the sugar-rich Ahmednagar district.
Party leader Rahul Gandhi has already given indication about the possible choice of the Congress in Maharashtra noting that the next Chief Minister should be a "clean" person who can "deliver".
While senior Maharashtra ministers like Narayan Rane, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and Harshavardhan Patil are also being seen as possible contenders, a section of the party says they are newcomers to Congress and therefore should wait for some more time.
Rane was former Chief Minister in Shiv Sena-BJP government in which Vikhe Patil was a Sena Minister as was Harshavardhan Patil, then an independent MLA. All the three leaders are also from Maratha community like the outgoing Chief Minister.
Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is a former Chief Minister and a Dalit and was the only non-Maratha Chief Minister of Congress in recent years.
Another Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, whom Ashok Chavan had replaced as the Chief Minister two years back, had been at the helm of affairs in the state for eight years. Both these leaders hail from Marathwada region.