3-party coalition on cards in Maharashtra, Sena may get CM post

Sharad Pawar, NCP
NCP chief Sharad Pawar addresses the media during a press conference in Nagpur | PTI Photo

The Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress will form a coalition government in Maharashtra and will complete its five-year term, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Friday (November 15), while a party spokesperson clarified that the chief minister’s post will go to the Sena.

Maharashtra, which has been witnessing a political impasse since the assembly election results were declared on October 24, is currently under President’s rule.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Pawar ruled out any possibility of midterm polls and said that the three parties will ensure this government runs for five years. Asked whether the BJP was holding discussion with the NCP over government formation in the state, the former union minister said his party was holding talks with only the Sena, the Congress and its allies and nobody beyond these.

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He said the three parties are at present working out a common minimum programme (CMP) that will guide the actions of the government being planned in the state. Representatives of the three parties met in Mumbai on Thursday and prepared a draft CMP.

Pawar took a dig at former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis remark that the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government will not survive for more than six months. “I know Devendra ji for some years. But I did not know he is a student of astrology too,” Pawar quipped.

Asked whether his party will support the Hindutva issue if the Shiv Sena raises it while forming the government, Pawar said the Congress and NCP held a meeting with leaders of the Uddhav Thackeray-led party on Thursday to discuss the CMP. The 78-year-old Maratha strongman said the Congress and the NCP always talk about secularism.

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“I was not there (in the Thursday meeting), my colleagues were there. I will know about what discussion took place. But it is true, the Congress or NCP always talk about secularism. We are not against Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism. But we are the people who insist on secularism when it comes to running a government. I don’t know yet about the discussion among our allies on this issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, his party’s spokeperson Nawab Malik said that the chief minister’s post will go to the Shiv Sena in the government being planned by the three parties. “The chief minister will be from the Shiv Sena. It walked away from the Mahayuti on the issue of the chiefministers post. It is our responsibility to respect its sentiment,” Malik said.

The three parties are likely to be part of the government and negotiations on sharing portfolios among them are on, sources said. Earlier, the Congress was expected to support the government from outside. “The Congress must be part of the government to ensure its stability,” sources in the NCP said.

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The Shiv Sena contested the October 21 assembly polls in alliance with the BJP as part of the mega alliance, which was in a comfortable position to form government in the state, winning 161 seats in the 288-memberhouse.

The two parties, however, fell out after the Uddhav Thackeray-led party persisted with its demand of sharing the chief minister’s post on a rotational basis. The Sena is at present working with the NCP and the Congress on a common minimum programme (CMP) that will guide the actions of the government the three parties plan to form.

The BJP emerged as the single largest party, winning105 seats in the election, followed by the Shiv Sena with 56 seats. The NCP and the Congress, also pre-poll allies, won 54 and 44 seats, respectively. Any party or alliance seeking to form government in the state needs to secure support of at least 145 MLAs on the floor of the House.

(With inputs from agencies)