New Delhi: Barely a few hours after Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh offered to step down, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has started consultations with senior party leaders on the strategy ahead.
The AICC indicated during the discussions, which came after Deshmukh’s announcement in Mumbai that he had offered to put in his papers at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday, that a decision on the issue would come in a day or two.
The matter has gained urgency as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil resigned today a day after Shivraj Patil was eased out as Union Home Minister.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Minister of State in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan are two names doing the rounds as possible successors to Deshmukh.
Gandhi held consultations with newly appointed Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Defence Minister and in-charge of party affairs in Maharashtra A.K. Antony and senior party leader Ahmed Patel.
“I can only say that the Maharashtra chief minister has offered to resign. A coalition government is there and we have to consult the allies. Consultations are on. At this point, I cannot say anything. I can say later today or tomorrow,” Antony told reporters after the meeting.
Earlier in the day, Shinde also had a meeting with Gandhi.
The continuance of Deshmukh, who has been Chief Minister for over four years, became untenable after the state government came under severe criticism over last week’s terror attacks.