Prithviraj Chavan (64) will be the new chief minister of Maharashtra. Ajit Pawar (51) from the Nationalist Congress Party will be his deputy chief minister.
As was widely expected, the Congress leadership on Wednesday selected Prithviraj Chavan to succeed Ashok Chavan, who resigned on Tuesday, after names of his in-laws figured in the Adarsh housing society scam in Mumbai.
Prithviraj Chavan was minister of state for Prime Minister's Office.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee announced the decision in New Delhi. The new council led by Prithviraj Chavan will be sworn in on Thursday.
The change of deputy chief minister was also significant with Ajit Pawar, NCP chief Sharad Pawar's nephew replacing Chhagan Bhujbal. Ajit had made a strong pitch for the same post last year when the government was formed, but was then denied.
The party may rehabilitate Bhujbal by making him state unit president.
"My priority is to give a transparent administration," Prithviraj said.
As minister of state for six years, Prithviraj has earned a reputation of being clean and efficient. His stock rose further with his key interventions during the struggle to get the civil nuclear liability bill passed in Parliament.
When Gandhi was asked about her message for Maharashtra, she quipped: "The message has already gone" — alluding to Ashok Chavan's replacement with Prithviraj Chavan.
Chavan — who was told of his new assignment "very very early in the morning" — will now need all the experience he gained since he entered the Lok Sabha in 1991 and the council of ministers in 2004 handle Maharashtra's political maelstrom.
The handicap of never having been active in state politics turned out to be an advantage.
"That is why perhaps I got the job," he said.
Before leaving for Mumbai, the man was already mending fences with Sharad Pawar whose support is vital for the coalition's functioning in the state.