Deshmukh's successor to be decided today

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Mumbai, Dec 4 : Senior Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony will leave for Mumbai today to decide on the new Maharashtra Chief Minister.

The decision is taking place after the Congress party accepted the resignation of Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh late on Wednesday night.

Antony, who looks after party affairs in Maharashtra, has said that Deshmukh has been asked to step down following last week's terrorist attack in Mumbai.

He was under pressure to quit after Shivraj Patil resigned as Union Home Minister, followed by R.R. Patil who had to quit as the state's deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister.

There is an outside chance of Deshmukh staying on, but his opponents seem quite determined to ensure his exit from Mantralaya.

The frontrunners for the Chief Minister's job are Union Minister Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil, Ashok Chavan, Narayan Rane and Prithviraj Chavan.

Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is likely to decide who will be the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra in the wake of the resignation of the incumbent R.R.Patil.

The NCP had said that an experienced hand will be needed at this critical time with elections are only three months away.

The names of Chhagan Bhujbal and Dilip Walse Patil, however, are doing the rounds for the Deputy Chief Minister's post.

ANI

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