Complete Unanimity Between Congress-NCP, Will Meet Shiv Sena Today to Finalise Alliance: Prithviraj Chavan
The former Maharashtra chief minister said the Shiv Sena has been kept in loop on all discussions and any announcement will happen only after a meeting with Uddhav Thackeray's party on Friday.
A meeting of Congress and NCP leaders at Sharad Pawar's house in Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)
New Delhi: Maharashtra on Thursday appeared headed for a non-BJP dispensation with Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan asserting his party and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have "complete unanimity" on all issues concerning government formation and will hold talks with the Shiv Sena on Friday to "finalise the architecture of the alliance".
The Congress and the NCP will hold talks with the Sena in Mumbai on Friday as well as their other pre-poll allies -- Peasants Workers Party, Samajwadi Party, Swabhimani Paksh and CPI(M) -- the former Maharashtra chief minister told reporters after another round of talks between senior leaders of his party and the NCP.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his MLA-son Aaditya met Sharad Pawar in Mumbai late on Thursday night after the NCP chief returned from Delhi. The meeting took place at Pawar's residence 'Silver Oak' in South Mumbai.
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. They are then likely to send separate letters to Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari mentioning their decision to come together to form a government, said a source.
Thackeray on Friday 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 combine, said a Sena leader.
Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and KC Venugopal will go to Mumbai on Friday for a meeting with the Sena and the NCP on the modalities of government formation, sources said.
For the better part of this week, Delhi has been 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 NCP and the Congress have completed discussions on all issues. There is complete unanimity on all issues," Chavan told reporters.
"A 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 the announcement of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) will clarify all the details of the new government.
Chavan said only after all the issues are discussed and cleared by the three parties will the alliance 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 given to the 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."
Meanwhile, former Mumbai Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Sanjay Nirupam cautioned the party leadership and said the tie-up with the Sena will prove disastrous.
"Several years ago, the Congress made a mistake of tying up with the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh. It faced a rout and since then it has not been able to recover. We are making the same mistake in Maharashtra,” Nirupam said in a tweet. “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."
Earlier on Thursday, the Congress and the NCP held separate meetings with its top central and state leaders. They have also been in touch with Thackeray.
In one of the meetings, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) after a detailed deliberation on the political situation in Maharashtra gave its approval to join hands with the Sena.
After the meeting chaired by Sonia Gandhi, Congress sources said the finer details on the government formation in Maharashtra is expected by Friday.
Senior 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."
The state plunged into a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister's post. The BJP and Sena, which fought the Assembly polls in alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress and the NCP won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.
The results of the October 21 Assembly polls were declared on October 24 and President's Rule was imposed on November 12 after no party or combine staked claim to form the new government.
(With inputs from PTI)
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