Shinde likely to succeed Deshmukh as Maharashtra CM

Vilasrao Deshmukh, chief minister, MaharashtraSonia loyalist and union minister for power Sushilkumar Shinde appeared to be the most likely candidate to succeed Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who has offered to resign.

The Maharashtra CM, like his deputy and state home minister R R Patil is at the receiving end over their lackadaisical approach to the terror attacks on Mumbai.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has already started Sushilkumar Shinde, union minister for powerconsultations with senior party leaders on the strategy ahead of the coming polls, is likely to opt for a veteran rather than a junior, considering the tasks ahead for the party, which is being cornered by the opposition BJP and the Shiv Sena.

A decision on the issue is likely in a day or two, Congress party sources were quoted as saying after a meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Saturday.

Shinde, considered to be a loyalist of the Gandhi family, had succeeded Deshmukh as the Maharashtra CM towards the end of the tenure of the previous Congress-NCP government in 2003.

Shinde, who is widely considered to be an acceptable candidate for the coalition partners in the state government, also met Sonia early today after Deshmukh offered to quit as chief minister.