Maharashtra's chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is most likely on his way out. He is likely to be replaced by the ex- chief minister and former union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde .
The 72 years old Shinde who is in the US for treatment has been asked to rush home. The Congress leadership wants the change to be effected well before the assembly election scheduled for October.
Sources told dna that other than Shinde, a few other names like revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, 61, and minister for agriculture and marketing Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, 62, are making the rounds. According to a Congress source the final decision will be taken shortly.
"The Congress high-command is not happy with the working style of chief minister Chavan. They did not expect a near-decimation of the party in the Lok Sabha polls in the state. The party could bag only two seats. In fact, the NCP, which also faced various corruption charges performed better than the Congress securing four seats. Most of the party leaders feel that Chavan is solely responsible for the extremely poor performance in the general elections. And, if Chavan is not changed at this juncture; then the party will be completed wiped out in the state assembly polls," the top level source in Delhi told dna.
An ex-chief minister of Maharashtra confirmed dna that "something is happening in the party, but it is very difficult to tell when the decision to remove Chavan will be taken".
Sources further told dna that NCP chief Sharad Pawar had a recent meeting with former defence minister AK Antony, who is known to be a trusted aide of Sonia Gandhi in Delhi. "In the meeting, Pawar apprised Antony of the ground reality in the state. He is learnt to have impressed upon Antony the need to effect a leadership change if the Congress-NCP alliance is to retain power in the state," a senior source stated.
Shinde recently had lost the Lok Sabha polls against BJP candidate Sharad Bansode by margin of 1.5 lakh votes in Solapur constituency. "But Shinde is known trusted and loyal to Gandhi family for last several years. He is reluctant to take any active political post after the Lok Sabha defeat. However, madam (Sonia Gandhi) has asked him to take up the assignment in the larger interest of the party. Shinde can revive the party cadre in state which is demoralised. . Besides, a new CM can eradicate all negativity against the party and the government as well. There will be movement of files in Mantralaya. Presently, every decision is at a standstill. And, Shinde is also a close friend of Pawar so there will be better coordination in the polls with the NCP. There will be positive energy if this decision takes place," said a senior Congress leader.