Pawar-Sonia meet on Sunday likely to break Maharashtra deadlock

Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi, Maharashtra, NCP, Congress
Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar will discuss the common minimum programme during their meeting on Sunday. | PTI File

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar are likely to meet in Delhi on Sunday (November 17) and decide on a possible alliance with the Shiv Sena to break the deadlock and form a government in Maharashtra, where Presidents’ rule was imposed on Tuesday.

The two parties, along with the Sena, have been holding discussions since Thursday and have worked out a common minimum programme (CMP) for forming the government. The draft CMP and the allocation of portfolios between the three parties will be discussed in Sunday’s meeting, said sources.

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The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress are busy discussing the nitty-gritty of government formation in the state which is under President’s rule since November 12 after the BJP-Sena alliance fell apart.

The BJP and Sena, which had contested the October 21 assembly polls together and won 105 and 56 seats respectively, secured a comfortable majority in the 288-member house. However, Sena’s persistent demand of the chief minister’s post for a half-term led to its fallout with BJP, which has been adamant on Devendra Fadnavis getting the top post.

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Meanwhile, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik on Saturday said that the state unit of the BJP is claiming that it will form government in the state because it fears that the turncoats from the opposition parties who had joined the BJP ahead of the assembly polls will defect.

His remarks comes a day after Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said his party will soon form the government and claimed it can count on the support of 119 MLAs, including Independents.

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Malik also attacked former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over his recent remark that a non-BJP government will not last for more than six months, saying the latter spoke, like the general of a defeated army, to boost the morale of his party men.

“The former chief minister is trying to boost the morale of his party workers like the general of a defeated army. We think they have been defeated and they will have to accept this. They are not ready to accept defeat, but one takes time,” Malik said.

On Patil’s remark, Malik questioned why the BJP did not form a government earlier if it had the numbers as claimed by its Maharashtra unit chief.

“None can form government (in Maharashtra) without the backing of at least 145 MLAs. They (the BJP) do not have their own MLAs, it brought leaders from other parties into its fold,” Malik said. He was referring to slew of leaders from the Congress and NCP joining the BJP ahead of the October 21 Assembly election.

(With inputs from agencies)