In the October 21 polls to the 288-member state Assembly, the BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena-56, NCP-54 and Congress-44.
Congress general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday met the party’s newly elected MLAs from Maharashtra, who are staying at a resort in Jaipur, to discuss the political situation in the state while NCP chief Sharad Pawar met some of his party leaders in Mumbai. Later talking to reporters in Jaipur, Kharge reiterated his party’s stand of sitting in the opposition in Maharashtra, while Pawar said he would react only to an official statement from the Sonia Gandhi-led party.
Former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam here said “it seems the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has broken”, and that he would urge his party leadership not to encourage government formation with the Sena’s help as it will “not be a stable government” and both the Congress and NCP will suffer. “We have not changed our stand from day one. We have always maintained that we will sit in the opposition and respect the mandate,” Kharge said after meeting the Maharashtra Congress MLAs in Jaipur.
Earlier, senior Congress leader Manikrao Thakare told PTI that Kharge met the MLAs informally to ascertain their views on what stand the party should take over government formation in Maharashtra. “Kharge will then convey the sentiments of the legislators to the party leadership,” Thakare said. All 44 newly elected Maharashtra Congress MLAs, including senior leaders like Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat, were staying at a resort in the Congress-ruled Rajasthan amid fear of ‘poaching’ in view of the stalemate over government formation.
A senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, said the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has deputed two observers to hold discussions with the MLAs inJaipur on what stand the party should take in view of the impasse on government formation. “The Congress has to decide if it wants to stop the BJP in Maharashtra or whether it doesn’t care if the BJP is able to form a government.
An alternative government can be formed only with Congress’ support,” he said. He also said that Kharge held informal talks with the Maharashtra Congress MLAs in Jaipur in the morning. He also brushed aside suggestions that the governor could invite the Congress-NCP for government formation as the ‘second largest’ alliance, claiming no such provision existed in the Sarkaraia Commission’s recommendations. In another development, NCP chief Sharad Pawar also held a meeting with some of his party leaders in Mumbai. Refusing to speak on a “non-BJP alliance”, Pawar said he would react only to Congress’ official statement.
“I cannot go by news reports about the decision of the Congress. I will react only when the Congress officially informs me about its decision,” Pawar told reporters. Meanwhile, former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam reiterated his party’s stand of not being in favour of entering into an alliance with the Shiv Sena. “The mandate is for the BJP-Sena (to form government) and for the Congress-NCP to sit in the opposition,” he told reporters here.
“It looks like the BJP-Sena alliance has broken. There have been talks that the Shiv Sena and NCP may join hands to stake claim for the government. I feel respect to the mandate is not indulging in government formation exercise,” he said. “I will pursue with our central leadership to not encourage formation of a government in Maharashtra with the help of the Shiv Sena. It will not be a stable government and ultimately both the Congress and NCP will suffer,” said Nirupam, who was a Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member before joining the Congress. The BJP and its ally Shiv Sena are locked in a bitter tussle over the chief minister’s post. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Saturday asked the BJP, the single largest party in the new Assembly, to “indicate the willingness and ability” to form government in the state. In the October 21 polls to the 288-member state Assembly, the BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena-56, NCP-54 and Congress-44.