The Nationalist Congress Party's spectacular performance in the assembly polls has set a section of NCP leaders thinking about the possibility of staking claim to the post of chief minister.
The NCP has won 71 seats as against 67 won by its larger alliance partner, the Congress. It has also emerged the largest single party in the state.
"Since the party has emerged as the larger one among the alliance partners, it is natural for the NCP to stake claim for the post of chief minister," senior party leaders said in Mumbai on Saturday.
State unit chief of the NCP R R Patil and former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal did not make a categorical denial and said "whether to stake claim or not (for chief minister's post) will be decided by the party's top leadership."
Patil, who was in his Tasgaon constituency, said "we have not decided anything in this regard and the party will formulate its stance after holding discussion with the top leadership". Bhujbal, who romped home from Yevla, also said the issue was for the high command to decide.
Patil said the legislature wing of the NCP was slated to meet in a day or two to elect its leader in the new house. In the DF dispensation, Congress held the post of the chief minister since it was the major ally of the alliance. In the 1995 assembly, the post of the chief minister had gone to the Shiv Sena, which had more seats than its ally, the