44 Congress MLAs to join Shiv Sena: Sources

Mumbai: In the twisting tale that the formation of Maharashtra cabinet has become, one major twist now is the revelation that 44 Congress MLAs have unanimously decided to join the Sena brigade. The decision is said to be motivated by the MLAs decision to keep BJP out of power at all costs.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday met the party's newly-elected MLAs from Maharashtra, who are currently staying at a resort in Jaipur, to discuss the political situation in the state.

Kharge, who is the All India Congress Committee's (AICC) generally secretary, met the legislators informally to ascertain their views on what stand the party should take about government formation in Maharashtra, senior congress leader Manikrao Thakare told PTI.

"Kharge will then convey the sentiments of the legislators to the party leadership," Thakare said.

All 44 MLAs, including senior leaders like Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat, were staying at the resort in the Congress-ruled Rajasthan amid fear of "poaching" in view of the stalemate over government formation in Maharashtra.

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 evening 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 Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena-56, NCP-54 and Congress-44.

With inputs from PTI