New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 10 (IANS): The Congress today chose Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan as the next Maharashtra Chief Minister.
Chavan, 64, was named leader of the Congress legislature party, paving the way for him to become the next chief minister of the state.
Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said party president Sonia Gandhi had been "unanimously requested" to appoint the next leader of the Congress legislature party in Maharashtra. "And this (Wednesday) morning she selected Prithviraj Chavan to be the new leader of the Congress legislature party," Mukherjee told reporters.
Chavan, who replaces Ashok Chavan, said he was "highly honoured and humbled" that the Congress leadership had chosen him to "undertake the responsibility of heading the government of Maharashtra at this important juncture".
He said he had had requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to relieve him of his duties and had got his blessings.
"This morning Mr AK Anthony informed me that the Congress president has chosen me to lead Maharashtra. I requested the prime minister to relieve me from the responsibilities of the union government and he has blessed me," Chavan told reporters in New Delhi.
"I seek the cooperation and support of all and I promise that I will do my best to give leadership to the state, an eminent state in the country," Chavan said, adding that he would be leaving for Mumbai by Wednesday evening.
In Mumbai, Congress legislators were readying to give him a grand welcome.
"Thousands of party activists and leaders will be there to receive and welcome him to Maharashtra," said Vile Parle legislator Krishna Hegde in Mumbai, soon after the announcement was made in the capital.
Chavan enjoys a clean, non-controversial image in Maharashtra.
He enjoys good rapport with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and also Manmohan Singh.
The announcement comes a day after Ashok Chavan's resignation as the Maharashtra chief minister was accepted by the Congress leadership following allegations of his connections with Mumbai's Adarsh housing society scam.
The 31-storey Adarsh apartment block being constructed in south Mumbai's posh Colaba area has been hit by allegations of corruption and irregularities, including charges that the flats meant for Kargil heroes and war widows were given to bureaucrats, relatives of politicians and former army and navy chiefs among others.
Chavan had come under the scanner after questions were raised on his role as revenue minister and revelations that one of the flats was owned by his mother-in-law. Names of some of his other relatives had also cropped up as beneficiaries of flats.
Ashok Chavan had offered to resign Oct 30 when he met Congress president Sonia Gandhi.