Not sounded out on leadership change: Chavan

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Pune, June 20: Amid speculation of a possible change of guard in Maharashtra following Congress-NCP's debacle in Lok Sabha elections, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday said he was not aware of any such move.

"I have not been sounded out on this or called to Delhi in this connection," he told reporters, adding it is the Congress high command's prerogative to change Chief Ministers and he is ready to shoulder any responsibility given by the party.

"Until a decision is made, I will continue with my work," Chavan said.

Senior Congress leaders A K Antony and Ahmed Patel had yesterday met NCP chief Sharad Pawar in Delhi where they were learnt to have discussed the possibility of a leadership change.

Chavan, however, pleaded ignorance about what transpired during yesterday's meeting. He said NCP is a constituent of UPA and such meetings are part of "a routine excercise".

He said he did not know if seat-sharing issues were discussed. According to reports, names of former Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, state ministers Bala Saheb Thorat and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil are doing the rounds as successor to incumbent Prithviraj Chavan.

Former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who had to step down as CM over his alleged involvement in the Adarsh Housing Society scam, is also said to be one of the contenders for the top post. Chavan, a leader from influential Maratha community, is among the two Congress candidates who weathered the saffron wave in the Lok Sabha elections to emerge victorious.

Prithviraj Chavan, who has often been targeted for alleged delayed decision-making, even by alliance partner NCP, said he had taken the maximum number of decisions during his tenure as chief minister.

The 15-year-old alliance was routed in the Lok Sabha polls with NCP winning four and Congress two out of the state's total 48 seats.

A section in the ruling coalition is said to be in favour of replacing Prithviraj Chavan in a bid to reduce the impact of anti-incumbency factor that worked against it in the Lok Sabha polls. Assembly elections are due in Maharashtra in four months.

PTI

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