The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Monday elected Mr. Chhagan Bhujbal as the leader of its legislature party, thereby making him the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

His nomination came despite a strong demand from the newly elected MLAs to elect Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP president Sharad Pawar, as the leader of the legislature party. Mr Bhujbal held the post in the previous government.

At a meeting attended by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and other senior partyleaders, Mr Bhujbal was unanimously elected.

Announcing this at a press conference, Mr. Patel said that earlier the legislature party passed a one -line resolution asking party president Mr. Sharad Pawar to take a decision on the leader. However, Mr. Pawar said the decision must be taken in the State itself and there was no need for the matter to be brought to New Delhi. Mr. Patel denied there was any rancour at the meeting. The choice of Mr. Bhujbal was unanimous and even Mr. Ajit Pawar was present.

Asked why Mr. Ajit Pawar was not present during the announcement, Mr. Patel said it was not necessary for everyone to be there. Mr. Ajit Pawar was a Minister in the last government.

Mr. Patel said the government formation would be done after discussions over the next few days between the Congress and NCP leaders in New Delhi. There was no formal proposal from the Congress on the Ministries and till that was done, he would not react, Mr Patel said.

He said the NCP was keen on abiding by the 1999 formula, when the chief minister’s post went to the Congress and important Ministries such as Home, Finance, Power and Irrigation were given to the NCP. The NCP was not aspiring for the chief minister’s post and as for the other portfolios, the party would wait to hear from the Congress.

The Congress, meanwhile, is keen on taking back some of the key portfolios vested with the NCP, especially since it has won 82 seats this time.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Monday met Governor S.C. Jamir at the Raj Bhavan and formally tendered his resignation on behalf his Council of Ministers.

The Governor accepted the resignation and asked Mr. Chavan and his council of Ministers to continue to hold their present offices until alternative arrangements are made.