Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Sunday met senior Congress leaders here.

Though termed a routine exercise to prepare for the coming Lok Sabha election, the meetings assume significance as they took place a day after suspended Congress leader Narayan Rane met Defence Minister and party in-charge of Maharashtra A. K. Antony.

Mr. Chavan is understood to be in favour of revoking Mr. Rane’s suspension.

Mr. Rane was suspended last month after he criticised the Congress leadership for picking Mr. Chavan to take over as Chief Minister from Vilasrao Deshmukh in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Mr. Rane’s meeting with Mr. Antony was his first official contact with the party’s central leadership after his suspension.

Besides Mr. Antony, Mr. Chavan met the former Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel. The meeting with Mr. Patil is being linked to the State government’s decision to split the Aurangabad division and make Mr. Chavan’s hometown, Nanded, the divisional headquarters instead of Latur as planned by Mr. Deshmukh. Mr. Patil is from Latur and has represented the area in the Lok Sabha in the past.