Sena, NCP, Cong discuss alliance, Pawar-Sonia meet on cards

Sonia, Sharad, Maharashtra polls

The political impasse in Maharashtra continued on Thursday (November 14) even as leaders of the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena met to decide a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for forming an alliance for the formation of government in Maharashtra. Meanwhile, reports said that NCP chief Sharad Pawar is likely to meet Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday.

The NCP, according to reports, maintained that the chief minister will be from Sena.

Maharashtra, where President’s rule was imposed on Tuesday after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was sure that none of the parties were able to form government in the state, has been witnessing a political deadlock since the assembly election results were declared last month. And the three non-BJP parties have started holding discussions to form a coalition, and thus break the deadlock in the state.

Also read | Any party with numbers can form govt in Maharashtra: Amit Shah

“Leaders of the allies Congress-NCP and the Sena held a meeting to work out consensus on common agenda of governance which will be called common minimum programme (CMP),” a senior Congress leader said. The CMP draft will need approval by top leaders of the three parties before it is finalised, he added.

Leaders of NCP, Congress and Sena came together for the first time to hold talks on Thursday after the Sena sought the support of two parties — its traditional adversaries —
for government formation after falling out with the BJP. The meeting was attended by NCP leaders, Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal and Nawab Malik, Congress leaders, Prithviraj Chavan, Manikrao Thakare and Vijay Wadettiwar, and Shiv Sena leaders, Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai.

Also read | In Maharashtra, the BJP is learning the dangers of riding a ‘tiger’

Unlike the frenzy and buzz during the last few days, the political parleys on Thursday were held away from media glare. NCP sources said that Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi are likely to meet in Delhi on November 17 and discuss possible government formation in alliance with the Shiv Sena. Draft CMP would be discussed in the meeting between Gandhi and Pawar, the source added.

The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, kept up its attacks on estranged ally, the BJP. Sena mouthpiece Saamana in its editorial on Thursday alleged that imposition of President’s rule in Maharashtra was a “scripted act”. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was shedding “crocodile tears” over the imposition of Presidents rule as power is indirectly in the hands of the BJP, it said.

Also read | Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil among NCP members in joint panel to prepare CMP

Sena MP Sanjay Raut said had BJP president Amit Shah informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi “in time” about the “50:50” seat-sharing formula decided on by leaders of the two
parties, the current impasse would have been avoided. Shah, on Wednesday, had rejected Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s claim that the BJP had agreed to share the chief minister’s
post. The state BJP is holding its state executive meeting here to discuss organisational matters and prevailing political situation.

The current political situation arose from a hard bargain between saffron allies, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, over the post of chief minister that led to the alliance’s failure to form a coalition government.

To prove majority in the 288-seat Maharashtra assembly, a party needs the support of 145 MLAs. However, all the four major parties in the state — the BJP (105), the Shiv Sena (56), the NCP (54) and the Congress (44) — have fallen short of the half way mark.

Allies BJP and Sena could have easily proved majority together and form a coalition government had they not entered into a power tussle. Since the BJP had backed off saying it does not have the numbers to form government, the Shiv Sena was expected to form an alliance with the NCP and Congress, which together will have 154 MLAs.

(With inputs from agencies)