New Delhi: With clock ticking for Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who is embroiled in a high-profile housing society scam, the next big question in front of the Congress party is – who will be his successor?
The names doing the rounds include those of Union ministers of state Prithviraj Chavan, Mukul Wasnik and Gurudas Kamat.
Senior party leader Prithviraj, 64, who hails from western Maharashtra, enjoys a good rapport with the Gandhi family as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
But Wasnik, 51, may be able to overtake Prithviraj if the Congress decides to bring in a second Dalit chief minister after Sushilkumar Shinde.
Senior Congress leaders in the capital too may pitch for Wasnik, who is from Vidarbha.
However, reports also described heavy lobbying for Gurudas Kamat.
Meanwhile, the revelations concerning the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam have ensured other aspirants like Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Narayan Rane and Patangrao Kadam have a very little chance to claim the seat.
The Congress high command is unlikely to go in for a name that will not inspire a clean image. All four are alleged to have been directly or indirectly involved with the Adarsh Society scam.
Chavan had yesterday offered to resign at a meeting in the national capital with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi who has asked two union ministers to probe the scam.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded Chavan`s immediate resignation and a probe by a Supreme Court judge into the Adarsh Housing Society flats, built on land meant for the families of Kargil martyrs.
Chavan`s mother-in-law, who died earlier this year, owned a flat in the society, as well as two other of his relatives.
Gandhi constituted a two-member team comprising Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister AK Antony to probe how the 31-storeyed plush housing society came up on the piece of land in Colaba in Mumbai and the allotment of flats to politicians, bureaucrats and military officials.
"It is a fact that Chavan has offered to resign. But a decision on the matter would be taken after the two-member committee submits a report to the Congress president," Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters at the Congress office.
"I have explained all details about the society controversy to the Congress president. I have also offered to resign," Chavan told reporters.
Chavan, 52, said he told Gandhi: "I am here, my resignation is also here. I leave it to you to take a final view."
"I have kept the truth in front of her... The truth should come out so that we can find out who all are responsible," he said.
Congress circles said Gandhi may discuss the Maharashtra political issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who returned in the evening from a foreign tour.
"A decision on Chavan`s resignation may be taken in the next 48 hours. Otherwise it may be after a week or so," a senior Congress leader said in Mumbai.
In Delhi, Congress circles said the issue has gained importance as the special session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) is due to start there on Tuesday.
Chavan also said he welcomed the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Defence Ministry into the housing society scam.
Some retired senior military officers who got flats have offered to return the allotment.
Congress sources said the two-member committee will look into all the facts relating to the ownership of the piece of land.