With the make-or-break Assembly elections in Maharashtra just a month away, the number of chief ministerial aspirants in the State are steadily increasing. This despite the fact that the parties till now have not settle down the seat-sharing deals.
Though, the parties are not declaring their candidates for the top job due to various reasons, senior leaders are coming out with claims for the top job.
There are over half-a-dozen chief ministerial aspirants in the Congress and BJP-led fronts. They include present chief minister Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar (NCP), Eknath Khadse, Devendra Phadnavis, Vinod Tawde (all from BJP), Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Narayan Rane (Congress) and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Among all these, CM Prithviraj Chavan is the first choice of mumbaikars for the CM post. As per pre-poll survey conducted by ABP-Neilson, about 1/5th of the respondents (21%) surveyed preferred Chavan followed by Uddhav Thackeray (18%) and Devendra Fadanvis (16%). Let's have a look at some top contenders for the post.
Nitin Gadkari, BJP
The Union Minister is the most eligible candidate for the CM post. Though, for the last few years, he is more active is central politics but still he is key player in State. Gadkari is taking keen interest in the State and trying to bring funds and projects to the State. He has been in constant touch with all the state leaders and seriously working on the Assembly poll plan. He has strong backing of RSS which further his prospects of clinching the top post.
Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena
Though Uddhav Thackeray has not openly declared his ambitions to become next CM, but his party leaders have been asking ally BJP to declare him as CM candidate. If Thackeray becomes the CM, he would be the first from the Thackeray clan.
Uddhav is a thinker, a silent worker, the inheritor of the Shiv Sena symbol, which have strong bonds with the Marathi manoos. But, he is a weak orator and not so effective like his father. Thackeray has not any experience of electoral politics.
Prithviraj Chavan, Congress
The present Chief Minister with clean image is among one of the main contenders for the top post. He was handpicked by Congress high command in November 2010, after then CM Ashok Chavan quit following corruption charges in Adarsh Housing Society. Chavan, so far, has completely failed in instilling a sense of confidence in the State party unit. His administration too has been ineffective.
Under his leadership, the party has lost its ground level connectivity. With no knowledge of State politics, Chavan failed to bind together the district units of the party. Some of the senior Congress leaders have held him responsible for party's humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha election. For quite long time, Chavan has been accused of shielding the scamsters.
Devendra Fadanvis, BJP
Fadanvis, the current president of BJP in Maharashtra, is also a strong contender for the CM post.
Fadanvis with his young and dynamic image and developmental ideology is known to be close to PM Modi. It was under his leadership that the State BJP won 23 seats out of 24 seats in the Lok Sabha elections 2014. Many of his supporters have floated a campaign called "Kendrat Narendra Rajyat Devendra" believing that only he can make Maharashtra debt-free and propel the State towards growth.
Eknath Khadse, BJP
Khadse a BJP MLA for last 25 years and a well known face in Maharashtra politics. The name leader of Opposition in State Assembly started doing rounds after he said, "In the BJP, those whose names are not doing the rounds come into the picture suddenly. There is nothing wrong in aspiring to become the Chief Minister."
Khadse is the dark horse and a silent player. He also enjoys confidence of the top leadership and has a proven track record. He has tremendous grip and influence over the administration.
Ajit Pawar, NCP
The Deputy CM of Maharashtra has a controversial career. His name surfaced in multi-crore Irrigation Scam. There are allegations that as the Minister for water resources he spared no efforts to help in the development of Lavasa, a project touted as a "vision of Sharad Pawar". He could be a dark horse if the NCP-Congress alliance returned to power.
Narayan Rane, Congress
Former Maharashtra Industries Minister Narayan Rane, has always been outspoken. He recently quit his Cabinet post over differences with the party leadership but later on withdrew his resignation. The Konkan strongman joined the Congress after he was promised a CM post, a dream which never becomes reality. Rane's good relations with the top leadership have ensured his position in the State politics. In spite his shortcomings, Rane has been a very ambitious man.