Chief Ministerial candidates are aplenty in Maharashtra with leaders of all hue seeking the top job but in Haryana incumbent Bhupinder Singh appears to be far ahead in the race in the October 13 Assembly polls.
Maharashtra 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 had replied in the affirmative when asked whether he would be the claimant for the top post if the Congress-led alliance gains majority in the upcoming polls.
His predecessor and Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh says 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 have been entrusted with key responsibilities in the polls. Deshmukh heads 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 to become the Chief Minister again.
The official line of the AICC as elaborated by party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed is: "the standard procedure for election of a Chief Minister is that the newly elected MLAs elect the leader in consultation with the party high command".
Shiv Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray brushes aside questions that he is the CM candidate of the Sena-BJP combine. He maintains, "The prime task was to remove Congress-NCP from power for its failure on all fronts."
Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut says it is an issue "only the Shiv Sena supremo can decide". Party workers feel that in the interest of Maharashtra, Uddhav would be the right choice for the Chief Ministership, he claims.
The refrain of his cousin Raj Thackeray is his appeal to hand him over the "key" to power in the backdrop of a possible fractured verdict so that he could set the system right.
The appeal is being dubbed by his detractors in the Sena-BJP combine as an admission that Raj cannot become Chief Minister and would have to extend support to any of the alliance.
BJP leader Prakash Javadekar insists that the issue of Chief Ministership has not arisen in this poll and the next Chief Minister of the combine would be decided jointly by L K Advani and Bal Thackeray.
Raj's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is in the contest mainly in Mumbai, Pune and Nasik regions, prompting the Sena-BJP, to dub him as a "supari" (contract) man of Congress and not "superman".
Former Deputy Chief Minister Gopinath Munde of the BJP has fielded several of his relatives including his daughter in an apparent move to keep the seat warm if an opportunity arises for him to lead the state.
NCP general secretary D P Tripathi has sought to create unease in Congress by saying that the party, which will get the highest seats, would get the Chief Minister's post and it would not allow repeat of 2004.
NCP had conceded the top post to Congress after the last assembly elections despite bagging a few seats more than its ally.
Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP is currently the Deputy Chief Minister and he had succeeded R R Patil, who is now the state party chief. Ajit Pawar, nephew of Sharad Pawar, is a leader in his own right.
The picture, however, is different in Haryana where Hooda had led Congress to victory in the Lok Sabha polls by bagging nine out of the 10 seats.
A senior party leader said Hooda has no equals in the Haryana Congress and even his detractors seek him for campaigning in their constituencies.
"Even those leaders in Haryana, who project themselves as Chief Ministerial candidates look towards Hooda, when election comes," he remarked.
The argument in AICC is that since Hooda's performance has been good, other state leaders have still a lot of time to catch up with him. Virender Singh is a possible rival.
The opposition in the state is in disarray with the Om Prakash Chautala-led INLD receiving a blow with BJP unilaterally walking out of the alliance with it.
Similar is the case with Haryana Janhit Congress with Mayawati's BSP breaking the tie-up.