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Consensus on Uddhav Thackeray for Maharashtra CM Candidate, Says Sharad Pawar; Talks to Continue Today

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and son Aaditya Thackeray. (PTI)

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and son Aaditya Thackeray. (PTI)

The proposed Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising the Sena-NCP-Congress is likely to hold a press conference on Saturday where the final details will be shared with the media.

New Delhi: The new government in Maharashtra will be formed under the leadership of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said in Mumbai on Friday, signalling end of speculation on who will occupy the chief minister's post as efforts to install a non-BJP dispensation in the state gathered pace.

Top leaders of the Sena, Congress and NCP met in Mumbai on Friday to give shape to new government to be led by the Thackeray-headed party, nearly a month after Assembly poll results were announced.

Eknath Shinde, Subhash Desai, Sanjay Raut (all Shiv Sena), Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal, Avinash Pande, Balasaheb Thorat, Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), Praful Patel, Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar (NCP) took part in the meeting.

Emerging from a marathon meeting of top leaders of the Congress, the NCP and the Sena, who are making efforts to form the government in Maharashtra, Pawar said there was a consensus on Thackeray's leadership.

"The issue of leadership is not pending. There are no two opinions on the issue of chief ministership. There was a consensus on Uddhav Thackeray leading the new government," he told reporters after the meeting.

When asked if the 59-year-old Thackeray, who is currently not a legislator, will be the new chief minister, Pawar shot back, "Don't you understand Hindi? The new government will be led by Uddhav Thackeray."

Thackeray, who emerged from the meeting soon after Pawar, said the talks were held in a satisfactory manner.

"The talks (on government formation) are progressing in the right direction. Nitty-gritties are being discussed now. All the three parties will come before you and all details will be shared after finalisation," he said.

Hours after the meeting, Sena leader Sanjay Raut confirmed that Thackeray has consented to lead the alliance as chief minister.

NCP's chief spokesperson Nawab Malik also said that Pawar has been insisting on Thackeray to lead the government. "Pawar has been insisting on Thackeray to become the chief minister. Pawar said consensus has been reached on the issue," said Malik.

However, Sena MLA Eknath Shinde when asked about Pawar's statement on Thackeray's leadership, separately told reporters there was "no discussion on that issue".

Shine, who attended the meeting, was elected as the leader of the Sena's legislative wing last month and is seen as one of the contenders for the chief minister's post.

Pawar said the meeting at Nehru Centre at Worli deliberated extensively on agenda for governance for the prospective dispensation.

"There will be a press conference tomorrow after everything is finalised," said the former Union minister who is at the centre of government formation talks in Maharashtra where Assembly poll results were announced nearly a month ago.

The proposed Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising the Sena-NCP-Congress is likely to hold a press conference on Saturday where the final details will be shared with the media.

"After the press conference tomorrow, we shall make attempts to stake claim at the earliest possible opportunity," said Malik.

Talks to continue on Saturday

All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Ahmed Patel said the talks among the three parties were inconclusive and would continue on Saturday.

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, who attended the meeting at Nehru Centre, said the discussion between the three partners was conducted in a positive manner and they have reached many conclusions.

"The talks will continue tomorrow. The discussion between the Congress and the NCP concluded in New Delhi yesterday and reached an agreement on common position. The discussion with the Shiv Sena was held today and will continue tomorrow as well," Chavan said.

Asked about Pawar's statement that Thackeray will lead the three-party government, Chavan evaded a direct reply and said, "Whatever he has said is on record."

Maharashtra has been facing 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 the 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 NCP and the Congress, pre-poll allies, won 54 and 44 seats, respectively. The combined tally of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress is way beyond the majority mark of 145. The state is currently under President's rule.

(With inputs from PTI)


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