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Maharashtra poised for hotchpotch govt

New Delhi/Mumbai : Maharashtra on Thursday appeared headed for a non-BJP dispensation with Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan asserting that his party and the NCP have “complete unanimity” on all issues concerning government formation and will now hold talks with the Shiv Sena to “finalise the architecture of the alliance”.

The discussions will now move to Mumbai where the Congress and the NCP will hold deliberations with their other pre-poll allies – Peasants Workers Party, Samajwadi Party, Swabhimani Paksh and CPI-M – and then with the Shiv Sena, the former Maharashtra chief minister told reporters after another round of talks between senior leaders of his party and the NCP.

Sources said the three parties are likely to make a formal announcement on Friday to join hands to take a shot at power in the state. The three parties are then likely to send separate letters to the Maharashtra Governor mentioning their decision to come together to form a government, said a source.

On Friday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will address a meeting of party MLAs and senior leaders which is expected to deliberate on the party’s line of action in the backdrop of the three main non-BJP parties making efforts to form government in Maharashtra, a party leader said.

Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal will go to Mumbai on Friday for a meeting with the Shiv Sena and the NCP on the modalities of government formation, sources said.

For the better part of this week, the national capital was the centre of marathon meetings between the Congress and the NCP, including their respective presidents Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar, to work out a suitable formula and ideological harmony before forging an alliance with the Sena, a party whose core Hindutva ideology is poles apart from the duo’s.

Top Congress leaders Patel, Jairam Ramesh and Kharge, its state leaders Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat and Naseem Khan, and NCP leaders Praful Patel, Supriya Sule, Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil and Nawab Malik were part of Thursday’s meeting.

“The Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress have completed discussions on all issues. There is complete unanimity on all issues,” Chavan told reporters.

“Decision will be taken tomorrow on what the architecture of the alliance will be. The final decision will be announced in Mumbai,” he said, adding that the announcement of the common minimum programme will clarify all the details of the new government.

He further said that only after all the issues are discussed and cleared by the three parties, the alliance will move towards staking claim to form the government.

NCP sources said the chief minister’s post is most likely to be on a rotational basis, with the first half to be given to the Shiv Sena and the latter to the NCP.

The Congress is likely to have the deputy chief minister’s post for the full five-year term, they said.

Asked about this and the seat-sharing formula, Chavan said, “All discussions in public domain are purely speculative.”

Former Mumbai pradesh Congress committee chief Sanjay Nirupam, cautioned the party leadership and said the tie-up with the Shiv Sena will prove disastrous for the party.

“Several years ago, the Congress made a mistake of tying up with the Bahujan Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. It faced rout and since then it has not been able to recover. We are making the same mistake in Maharashtra. Becoming a number three party in the Shiv Sena-led government is akin to burying the Congress in the state. It is better if the Congress president does not succumb to the pressure,” Nirupam tweeted. 

Earlier in the day, the Congress and the NCP held separate meetings with its top central and state leaders. They have also been in touch with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

In one of the meetings, the Congress working committee after a detailed deliberation on the political situation in Maharashtra gave its approval to join hands with the Sena in the state, party sources told PTI.

After the meeting, which was chaired by Sonia Gandhi, Congress sources said the finer details on the government formation in Maharashtra are expected by Friday.

On Wednesday, the Congress-NCP alliance gave its most categorical indication about joining hands with arch rival Shiv Sena, with Prithviraj Chavan expressing confidence of forming a “stable” government soon in the state after a marathon meeting of senior leaders of the two parties here.

Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “In the interest of the state and its people, we want to run the government and that too for five years.”

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