NCP wants share in chief minister's office, Congress ministries
Eventually, Sena may end up securing the Democratic Front's support to form government; now, the price is being discussed
Sharing the Chief Minister's Post for equal time was why the Shiv Sena and BJP split. Now, the same issue seems to be delaying the formation of an alternative government.
If the Democratic Front leaders are to be believed, besides deciding a common minimum program (CMP), the Congress and NCP want another CMP issue to be addressed too, that of the Chief Minister's Post.
"Like the Sena, we too want the CM seat for equal tenure. After all, the NCP-Congress alliance has 100 MLAs as against 56 of the Sena," a senior NCP functionary said on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile after speaking to NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi deputed a delegation of party leaders to discuss the issue and take it ahead. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting scheduled on Tuesday was cancelled and party leaders were asked to march to Mumbai to meet Pawar and chalk out a strategy to resolve the political crisis in Maharashtra.
Prithviraj Chavan, Ajit Pawar during a Cong-NCP press conference at Y B Chavan Centre on Tuesday
Congress and NCP leaders, after holding a marathon meeting, addressed media in Mumbai and made it clear that the DF alliance has not yet extended support to the Sena.
"Before deciding on whether to support Sena, the DF partners needs todraw a common minimum program and even other issues which includes ideological differences," said Ahmed Patel of the Congress. He said it was only on Monday that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray called Gandhi and sought support.
Pawar, the Maratha strongman who has emerged as kingmaker post assembly results, took a jibe on the decision of imposing Presidential rule in Maharashtra.
"We have ample time to decide our future course of action," the octogenarian leader said about the governor's decision. Pawar's statement clearly indicated that the DF is keen to resolve the crisis and form a government.
Nineteen days after after results were declared, a new government is yet to be formed. The saffron alliance has got a clear majority of 161 seats in the 288-member House. But, the Sena has refused to support the BJP unless the latter honors the commitment it had apparently given before the Lok Sabha polls.
Sharad Pawar and Mallikarjun Kharge during a Cong-NCP press conference at Y B Chavan Centre on Tuesday
The Sena has been insisting on equal share in power, including sharing of the CM post, the request which the BJP has out rightly rejected.
Meanwhile a senior Congress leader maintained that if Congress decides to support Sena, it should be from within the government and not from outside.
"The way NCP is asking for its share in the government, the Congress too should demand 14 ministerial berths in the cabinet. Whether you support from outside or are a part of the government, the damage of going along with a saffron party is going to be same. Hence, being part of the government will at least help the party to improve its performance through the portfolios it gets in the state government," the leader said, in a clear indication that the Congress is seriously considering supporting the Sena.
No wonder Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray too speaking to media hinted of new political alliances shaping up. Asked about the BJP leaders questioning Sena having alliance with parties with ideological differences, Thackeray said, "I am studying the draft of the alliance that was formed between BJP and PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP and Nitish Kumar in Bihar."
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