Even as a final decision on whether the three parties can join hands to form a non-BJP government is pending, sources told The Indian Express that preliminary talks regarding the likely power-sharing arrangement are being carried out at the state level.
Sources added that the initial proposal being discussed is regarding proportionate distribution of key ministerial portfolios between the three parties. While 42 ministerial berths are up for grabs, sources said the preliminary talks are regarding distribution of nine key portfolios — home, finance, revenue, cooperatives, public works, water resources, urban development, rural development and agriculture.
The Congress, which won lesser seats as compared to NCP and Sena, has been insisting on an equitable power distribution model on the ground that each party needs the other to come to power. In the Assembly polls, Sena won 56 seats, NCP 54, and Congress 44.
The NCP, on the other hand, is eyeing home, cooperatives, and finance portfolios, and has been bargaining hard on the ground that it has only two seats less than Sena, which is expected to lead the formation if it comes into existence.
For a consensus on key portfolios, a proposal to group these departments in lots of three in the order of importance and annual budgets and dividing them proportionately was discussed at the meeting, a source said. For instance, if the home portfolio goes to one party, the revenue portfolio will be held by another, and urban development will be held by the third party. Similarly, key departments driving the state’s rural economy — agriculture, cooperatives and rural development — will be proportionately distributed between the three parties.
On Thursday, the first joint meeting between the three parties in Mumbai saw the emergence of a draft CMP, meant to thrash out differences on governance issues. It is learnt that the three parties also held initial talks regarding distribution of portfolios.
The three parties have come to an agreement that the only way to provide a stable non-BJP formation is for all of them to join the government. “Efforts are being made to ensure that no party feels that it has lost out,” a source said.
The three parties, meanwhile, continued to present a united face, with NCP spokesperson and Mumbai party president Nawab Malik announcing that representatives from the three sides would come together on Saturday to submit a memorandum to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, demanding immediate relief for farmers hit by unseasonal rain. “After imposition of President’s Rule, the government has virtually come to a standstill. Farmers are suffering. Several applications for medical aid from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund are pending,” he said.
Indicating that initial talks between the parties at the state level have been completed, state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said on Friday that “future course of action will be indicated by Delhi”. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar are likely to hold further deliberations in this regard on November 17-18.
Thorat also hinted that the leadership of the three parties are yet to take a final call on power sharing. Stating that the talks so far had been constructive, he said, “I can say that you won’t have to wait much longer for an elected government in the state.”
Pawar on Friday said “talks are focused on providing a stable government that can last the full five years”. He said he cannot give a deadline for government formation, but ruled out the “possibility of mid-term polls.” NCP’s Malik said the CM post would go to Sena if the three parties came together. “We are being asked if the CM will be from Sena. The fallout between BJP and Sena has been over the CM post. The latter was humiliated. So, our responsibility would be to honour their self-respect.” Pawar remained non-committal. “If somebody asks for the CM’s post, we would then think over it.”