26 days after poll results, no headway in Maha govt formation

(Eds: combines related series) New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 18 (PTI) No early resolution ofthe 26-day-old impasse on government formation in Maharashtraappeared in sight on Monday, even as NCP chief Sharad Pawarsaid the issue did not figure in his meeting with Congresspresident Sonia Gandhi earlier in the day.

Asked if he would rule out the NCP supporting the BJPin forming the government, Pawar evaded a direct reply andpointed out that the BJP was his party's major opponent in theAssembly polls.

'The BJP and Sena contested the polls jointly. Askthem why are they not forming the government,' Pawar said.

There was no response to Pawar's remarks from the ShivSena, which is banking on the support of NCP and Congress tokeep the BJP away from power.

Amid the impasse over government formation inMaharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday extolledthe virtues of the Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)in Parliament, praising the party for strictly 'adhering toparliamentary norms.' Addressing the House on the occasion of the 250thsession of Rajya Sabha, Modi said, 'Today I want to appreciatetwo parties, NCP and BJD. These parties have strictly adheredto parliamentary norms.' In Mumbai, the BJP opted out of fray for the November22 mayoral poll in India's richest civic body, leaving theSena retaining the mayor's post a mere formality.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Pawar said hebriefed Gandhi about the political situation in Maharashtraand that there was no talk on government formation in thestate.

'We have discussed in detail the political situationin Maharashtra,' he said.

'We will keep an eye on the situation in Maharashtra.

Congress and NCP leaders will hold further talks on the futurecourse of action,' he added.

The NCP is in talks with ally Congress for a possiblecoalition with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena after thelatter's alliance with the BJP fell apart over the chiefminister's post in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra was placed under the President's rule onNovember 12 after no party or alliance staked claim to formgovernment in the state.

Pawar's meeting with the Congress chief comes a dayafter the NCP's core committee meeting in Pune resolved thatthe President's rule should end and an alternative governmentbe formed in Maharashtra.

After Shiv Sena MPs were allotted seats on theOpposition side in Parliament, Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Mondayhit back at the BJP, saying the NDA government at the Centreis not the property of one party but some are 'consideringthemselves God'.

In the October 21 Maharashtra polls, the BJP-Senasaffron alliance had secured a comfortable majority by winning105 and 56 seats respectively in the 288-member Assembly. TheCongress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, had won 44 and 54 seatsrespectively.

The Shiv Sena on Monday took a swipe at the BJP, overthe 'paltry' financial assistance announced by Governor BhagatSingh Koshyari to the farmers affected by unseasonal rains.

In an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana, theSena said the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, left theaffected farmers in the state disappointed with the 'meagre'relief.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has putoff his November 24 visit to Ayodhya, a Sena leader said onMonday.

'The government formation process is taking time.

Leaders of the three parties (Sena, NCP and Congress) areholding meetings. They are inching towards governmentformation. In view of these developments, Uddhavji has decidedto postpone his visit to Ayodhya,' a Sena leader said. PTIPR/ASK MPB ND NSK VTVT VT