Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar yesterday remained non-committal on government formation in Maharashtra after his talks with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying they did not discuss about supporting any party.
Pawar, who arrived from Mumbai to ostensibly discuss the Common Minimum Programme of a Sena-Congress-NCP government, yesterday evening appeared reluctant, saying repeatedly that they did not discuss the government formation.
“I had a meeting with Sonia Gandhi, and (senior Congress leader) A K Antony was present. I briefed her about the political situation of the state,” said Pawar.
He said the NCP and Congress leaders will meet again to discuss the issues and then report to Gandhi.
Pawar also ruled out any tie-up with the Bharatiya Janata Party and said during the meeting he and Gandhi did not discuss the issue of supporting the Shiv Sena.
According to sources, small alliance partners such as Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Paksha, the Peasants and Workers Party of India, and the Samajwadi Party, are unhappy about the developments.
“We will take the view of the parties before taking any decision,” Pawar said.
He said that leaders of the NCP and Congress will take a view on the political status.
“Those who are with us should be taken into confidence... We have not talked about any support to any party yet,” the NCP strongman said.
Pawar had set off alarm bells on the prospects of the three-party alliance for Maharashtra ever taking off when he said in the morning that the BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the recent elections together and they have to “choose their paths”.
Speaking to reporters outside parliament, Pawar said, “BJP-Shiv Sena fought together, we and Congress fought together in the elections. They have to choose their path and we will do our politics.”
However, two days ago in Mumbai Pawar had stated firmly that the process to form the government had started and it would be a stable government that would last its full five-year term.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too set tongues wagging when he specially praised the NCP in the Rajya Sabha for maintaining decorum by not rushing to the well of the house, where the chairperson sits.
“Today I want to appreciate two parties, NCP and BJD (Biju Janata Dal). These parties have wonderfully adhered to parliamentary norms. They have never ventured into the well. They have made their points very effectively. Much can be learned from these practices,” Modi said.
The Congress has also kept the window open with the party officially saying that leaders of the two parties will meet to decide on the future course of action.
Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said: “Sharad Pawar met the Congress president today and briefed her on the situation in Maharashtra. It was decided that in a day or two, representatives from NCP and Congress will meet in Delhi to discuss the way forward.”
The BJP and Shiv Sena contested the October 21 assembly polls together, bagging 105 and 56 seats respectively. However, the alliance fell apart after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray demanded rotational chief ministerial post, a demand rejected by the BJP.
The Congress and the NCP won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.
Congress sources said that before saying yes to the alliance, the party wants Shiv Sena to shed its hardline Hindutva ideology and take a secular stand on several issues.
They also said the NCP wants the Congress to be part of the government.
Meanwhile, amid the power tussle, Shiv Sena yesterday raised voice against its former alliance partner on the first day of the winter session of parliament, seeking immediate relief for farmers affected by unseasonal rains in parts of Maharashtra and staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha.
Sena’s stand-off with the BJP was visible in the lower house as its members were the first among other opposition parties to stage protest against the government and disrupt the proceedings.
In an editorial in the party newspaper Saamana, Sena recently had raised the issue of farmers who have suffered crop losses and had advocated adequate compensation without attaching any conditions.
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