NCP, Congress hint at forming 'stable govt' in Maharashtra

NCP, Congress hint at forming 'stable govt' in Maharashtra
Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan arrives to attend the NCP-Congress meeting at the residence of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, in New Delhi, Wednesday. Photo: PTI
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New Delhi: The Congress-NCP alliance on Wednesday gave its most categorical indication about joining hands with arch rival Shiv Sena, with former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan expressing confidence of forming a "stable" government soon in the state after a marathon meeting of senior leaders of the two parties here.

While the Congress leader hoped that political uncertainty will soon end in Maharashtra, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik was unambiguous about the need to join hands with the Sena, asserting that a government cannot be formed in the state without the three parties coming together.

This is the most emphatic public statement by the Congress-NCP combine about their intent to join hands with the Sena to form a government.

A senior NCP leader said a government is likely to be formed before the first phase of the Jharkhand polls scheduled on November 30.

NCP sources said the chief minister's post is most likely to be on a rotational basis, with the first half to be given to the Shiv Sena and the latter to the Nationalist Congress Party.

The Congress is likely to have the deputy chief minister's post for the full five-year term, they said.

However, Congress sources asserted that the issue of rotational chief ministership did not come up during the discussion with the NCP. The two parties will have another round of meeting on Thursday to give final touches to the contours of the alliance.

There will be discussions between the Shiv Sena and the Congress-NCP alliance in Mumbai on Friday, following which an announcement on government formation will be made.

Earlier, speaking to reporters after the nearly four-hour-long meeting at NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's residence here, both Chavan and Malik said the current spell of President's rule in the state has brought administration to a standstill, and the two parties are confident of ending this.

The announcement, which is likely to end whatever little doubt remained over whether the Congress will back the Sena or not amid reports of opposition to such an alliance by a section of its leaders, came a day after Pawar met Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Senior Congress leaders Ahmad Patel and Mallikarjun Kharge were part of the deliberations held at Pawar's residence.

Earlier in the day, Pawar had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss farmers' issues in Maharashtra.

Chavan, though, added that some aspects of the likely alliance are still being discussed.

"We had a long and positive discussion... We are confident that we will soon be able to give a stable government in Maharashtra," he said.

Later, the Congress leaders met party president Sonia Gandhi. They again returned for a fresh round of meeting with the NCP leaders at around 10 pm, that lasted for over an hour.

Talking to reporters, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said he is constantly updating party chief Uddhav Thackeray and Aditya Thackeray on the developments in Delhi. The Sena leader also had meetings with Pawar on Wednesday.

"The NCP and the Congress have clearly said that three parties will come together. All three parties have to make a Common Minimum Programme and how will it be implemented...this is being deliberated in these meetings," he said.

Raut also asserted that the process of government formation will not be delayed any further.

The state was plunged into a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after its partner refused to accede to its demand of sharing the chief minister's post.

The BJP and Sena, which fought the October 21 assembly polls in alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member assembly. The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.

The Sena then began talks with the Congress-NCP alliance.

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