Maharashtra govt formation: After Sonia nod, Congress and NCP to join Sena-led govt

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Published: November 22, 2019 12:24:00 AM

Leaders of the Congress and NCP will meet the Shiv Sena leadership in Mumbai today. The Congress understanding is that the govt will be led by Sena with Congress and NCP getting the posts of deputy chief ministers

Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray with other Shiv Sena leaders in Thane on ThursdayUddhav and Aaditya Thackeray with other Shiv Sena leaders in Thane on Thursday

The uncertainty over government formation in Maharashtra is set to end in the next 24 hours with the Congress and NCP reaching an understanding on Thursday on backing a Shiv Sena-led government in the state. The two parties, sources said, will join the government and the nitty-gritty of the power-sharing formula could be finalised and announced as early as Friday.

The Congress Working Committee met Thursday morning at party chief Sonia Gandhi’s residence and gave the green signal for the party to enter into an alliance with the NCP and the ideologically incompatible Shiv Sena.

Top Congress and NCP leaders met later after which senior leader Prithviraj Chavan said the Congress and NCP have “complete unanimity” on all issues regarding government formation and they will now hold talks with the Shiv Sena to “finalise the architecture of the alliance”.

Leaders of the Congress and NCP will meet the Shiv Sena leadership in Mumbai on Friday to finalise the power-sharing formula. The understanding of the Congress is that the government will be led by the Sena with the Congress and NCP getting the posts of deputy chief ministers. The post of Assembly Speaker, the Congress believes, will be given to it. The portfolios will be divided as per the respective party strength. “It is almost equal for the Sena and NCP and the Congress may get two less,” a senior leader said.

The CWC had to hold a special meeting and give its in-principle approval since an alliance with the Sena, which has a hard Hindutva past, is no less than crossing the Rubicon for the Congress. The party was keen that the word “secular” finds mention in the Common Minimum Programme and the suggestion had emerged as a sticking point. The Congress, sources said, has now climbed down and the CMP will spell out that the new government will adhere to the Preamble of the Constitution.

The document will reaffirm “total faith and commitment to the Constitution of India in letter and spirit and that the government which will be formed will work accordingly to uphold those foundational values,” a senior leader said.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said a new government in Maharashtra should be in place before December and a final decision on it will be taken in a day or two. He said there are no plans of any meeting between Sonia Gandhi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray this week.

“Yesterday’s (Wednesday) meeting was on Common Minimum Programme and leaders of the two parties (NCP and Congress) have said the deliberations were positive. In a day or two, the three parties will reach a consensus. Maharashtra will get a stable government led by Shiv Sena before December,” Raut said.

Gandhi was initially reluctant to the proposal for forming a government with the Sena but changed her stand in the face of the “collective resolve of the Maharashtra Congress leadership to keep the BJP at bay”, a senior leader said. The CWC, too, took the view that the principal opponent is the BJP and “given their aggression” it is important to checkmate them by dividing the NDA and keeping them out of an important state like Maharashtra, the leader said.

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