"Our state legislature party has decided that Chhagan Bhujbal will be the leader," said NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Pawar.
Maharashtra Industries Minister Ashok Chavan has emerged as the frontrunner for Chief Minister as Congress central observers Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony finalised their shortlist after interviewing party legislators in Mumbai on Thursday night. "We will get back to you in the evening," said Antony.
The final choice has been left to party chief Sonia Gandhi and will be announced on Friday, Dec 5.
Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane is another name doing the rounds for the Chief Minister"s post, but he is unlikely to get the job because of his past membership of the Shiv Sena. He has been a bitter critic of caretaker Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and that has gone against him.
Bhujbal, 61, succeeds R R Patil, resigned owning moral responsibility for the Mumbai terror attack. Bhujbal was the Deputy Chief Minister in the first Congress-NCP government sworn-in in 1999.
The Chief Minister"s post fell vacant after Desmukh resigned owning moral responsibility for the Mumbai terror attack and was asked to hold the job till a replacement was selected.