Maha impasse: Kharge says Cong will sit in Oppn, Pawar meetsNCP leaders

Maha impasse: Kharge says Cong will sit in Oppn, Pawar meetsNCP leaders Mumbai, Nov 10 (PTI) Congress general secretaryMallikarjun Kharge on Sunday met the party's newly electedMLAs from Maharashtra, who are staying at a resort in Jaipur,to discuss the political situation in the state while NCPchief Sharad Pawar met some of his party leaders in Mumbai.

Later talking to reporters in Jaipur, Khargereiterated his party's stand of sitting in the opposition inMaharashtra, while Pawar said he would react only to anofficial 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 hewould urge his party leadership not to encourage governmentformation with the Sena's help as it will 'not be a stablegovernment' and both the Congress and NCP will suffer.

'We have not changed our stand from day one. We havealways maintained that we will sit in the opposition andrespect the mandate,' Kharge said after meeting theMaharashtra Congress MLAs in Jaipur.

Earlier, senior Congress leader Manikrao Thakare toldPTI that Kharge met the MLAs informally to ascertain theirviews on what stand the party should take over governmentformation in Maharashtra.

'Kharge will then convey the sentiments of thelegislators to the party leadership,' Thakare said.

All 44 newly elected Maharashtra Congress MLAs,including senior leaders like Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavanand Balasaheb Thorat, were staying at a resort in theCongress-ruled Rajasthan amid fear of 'poaching' in view ofthe stalemate over government formation.

A senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity,said the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has deputed twoobservers to hold discussions with the MLAs inJaipur on whatstand the party should take in view of the impasse ongovernment formation.

'The Congress has to decide if it wants to stop theBJP in Maharashtra or whether it doesn't care if the BJP isable to form a government. An alternative government can beformed only with Congress' support,' he said.

He also said that Kharge held informal talks with theMaharashtra Congress MLAs in Jaipur in the morning.

He also brushed aside suggestions that the governorcould invite the Congress-NCP for government formation as the'second largest' alliance, claiming no such provision existedin the Sarkaraia Commission's recommendations.

In another development, NCP chief Sharad Pawar alsoheld a meeting with some of his party leaders in Mumbai.

Refusing to speak on a 'non-BJP alliance', Pawar saidhe would react only to Congress' official statement.

'I cannot go by news reports about the decision of theCongress. I will react only when the Congress officiallyinforms me about its decision,' Pawar told reporters.

Meanwhile, former Mumbai Congress president SanjayNirupam reiterated his party's stand of not being in favour ofentering 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 toldreporters here.

'It looks like the BJP-Sena alliance has broken. Therehave been talks that the Shiv Sena and NCP may join hands tostake claim for the government. I feel respect to the mandateis not indulging in government formation exercise,' he said.

'I will pursue with our central leadership to notencourage formation of a government in Maharashtra with thehelp of the Shiv Sena. It will not be a stable government andultimately both the Congress and NCP will suffer,' saidNirupam, who was a Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member before joiningthe Congress.

The BJP and its ally Shiv Sena are locked in a bittertussle over the chief minister's post.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Saturday asked theBJP, the single largest party in the new Assembly, to'indicate the willingness and ability' to form governmentin the state.

In the October 21 polls to the 288-member stateAssembly, the BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena-56, NCP-54 andCongress-44. PTI MR ND BNMGK GK