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Talks progressing in right direction: Uddhav

Mumbai: A day after President’s rule was imposed in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders held hectic parleys to work out a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for government formation.

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray met Maharashtra Congress leaders for over an hour in the morning. The talks for government formation were progressing in the “right direction”, he said after the meeting.

State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat dubbed the meeting with Thackeray as a “courtesy call”, and added the fact that they were meeting was itself a “positive” step.

Thackeray held talks with Thorat, former chief minister Ashok Chavan and another senior Congress leader, Manikrao Thakare, at a suburban hotel.

The Sharad Pawar-led NCP, meanwhile appointed a five-member panel, which will be part of a joint committee to be formed with the Congress for deciding the CMP before the possible alliance with the Sena is finalised.

NCP’s panel comprises Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Nawab Malik and Dhananjay Munde. Patil, state NCP chief, told reporters after meeting Sharad Pawar that power-sharing formula was not being discussed as yet.

“We have not set any conditions before the Shiv Sena. Right now, we are working on agenda for governance. Arvind Sawant has quit the Narendra Modi government and we believe through this step, the Sena has officially pulled out of the BJP-led NDA,” he said.

Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said the talks of government formation will start only after top leaders of the three parties approve the CMP.

There was speculation that the Congress may get the posts of deputy chief minister and assembly speaker in the new arrangement, while the chief minister’s post will be shared by the NCP and Sena. Chavan, however, maintained that power-sharing formula was not being discussed now.

A scheduled joint committee meeting of Congress and NCP leaders to work out details of Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for formation of government in Maharashtra with support of the Shiv Sena was cancelled, a visibly upset Ajit Pawar said on Wednesday night, triggering speculations. However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar later told reporters that his nephew Ajit deliberately made remarks about visiting Baramati, his hometown in Pune district, in night to avoid media.

As Ajit’s remarks were lapped up by a section of media, a senior Congress leader and NCP chief spokesperson confirmed that the meeting was going on.

The BJP, meanwhile, tried to needle its ally-turned-foe Shiv Sena. “It is up to the Shiv Sena how to fit their Hindutva agenda in the Common Minimum Programme with Congress,” BJP leader and Union minister Raosaheb Danve said.

On its part, Saamana, the Sena mouthpiece, attacked the BJP in its editorial, saying the BJP was deriving “sadistic pleasure” out of the struggle of other parties to form government in Maharashtra.

In a related development, Congress MLAs who were camping at a resort in Jaipur for the last five days returned to Mumbai on Wednesday.

The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, did not mention in the Supreme Court its plea challenging the Governor’s decision not to grant it three days’ time to get the letter of support to form the government.

Sena lawyers said that the party preferred not to mention the petition, as there was change in the situation after the imposition of President’s rule.

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