The NCP has said that its supremo Sharad Pawar will meet Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Monday to discuss the government formation in Maharashtra. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik made the announcement on Sunday evening after a meeting of the party's core committee at Pawar's residence. Malik said that the core committee was of the view that the current President's Rule in Maharashtra should end and an "alternative government" should be formed.
The NCP is in talks with its ally Congress for a possible alliance with the Shiv Sena, after the Sena's alliance with the BJP fell apart over the chief minister's post. "We had had a discussion over the current political situation in the state, and we have come to the conclusion that the President's Rule should end and an alternative government should be formed," said Malik.
"Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi will meet on Monday and discuss the possibility of formation of alternative government in Maharashtra," he said. "On Tuesday, (other) leaders from the NCP and Congress will meet and discuss future course of action," he added. The NCP core committee's meeting, which lasted for over two hours, was attended by Jayant Patil, Dilip walse Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Ajit Pawar, Supriya Sule, Sunil Tatkare, Dhananjay Munde and others.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said that "we are trying to find if the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP can come together". "There will be a meeting tomorrow between Sena and Congress leaders. We will find out if we can go ahead or not," the former chief minister told reporters. Maharashtra was placed under President's Rule on 12 November after no party or alliance staked claim to form government.
The Sena reached out to the Congress-NCP combine for support after its alliance with the BJP collapsed. The saffron alliance had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress and NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats.
Shiv Sena skips NDA meet
Meanwhile. the Shiv Sena skipped Sunday's National Democratic Alliance meet on the eve of the Winter Session of Parliament. Parliament is set to assemble for the Winter Session beginning on Monday, 18 November (tomorrow).Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut also said that the Uddhav Thackeray-led party walking out of the BJP-headed National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is a mere formality.
"I have learnt that the meeting (of NDA constituents) is being held on 17 November. We had already decided against attending the meeting considering the developments in Maharashtra...our minister resigning from the Central government," Raut told PTI. Meanwhile, in Delhi, seating arrangement of Shiv Sena MPs in both the Houses of Parliament have been changed. They will now sit in the fifth row on the Opposition side, News18 reported.
Asked if only a formal announcement of the Sena walking out of the NDA remains to be made, Raut was quoted as saying, "You can say that. There is no problem with saying that." He also said, "We want Uddhav-ji to lead the government in Maharashtra".
In a sharp jibe at its estranged ally-turned-foe, the BJP, Raut said the NDA was not somebody's property. "The Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal were equally important founders of the alliance," he added. "There is a big difference between the NDA of the old and this NDA. Advaniji, who was one of the founders, is now inactive. There is no system in the NDA. Who is the convener for today's NDA? Who is the new Boss of NDA? Please tell me? I don't know who it is. We are sure that new government in Maharashtra will be run by a Shiv Sena chief minister. There is no doubt about that. We have our Common Minimum Programme."
The Sena, NCP and Congress have reached a consensus on a Common Minimum Programme (CMP), the basis of their proposed coalition government, and there was no need to discuss it in Delhi, Raut said.
The Shiv Sena, a long-standing constituent of the NDA, fell out with the BJP over sharing the chief ministerial post, a few days after the results of the Maharashtra Assembly elections were announced on 24 October. The echo of the worsening relationship between the two parties reverberated at the national level too, with the Sena's lone minister in the Modi government, Arvind Sawant, resigning on 11 November.
The Rajya Sabha MP exuded confidence that the Sena will install its mayors in the Mumbai and Thane civic bodies in upcoming Mayoral elections. "It won't be surprising if the Sena installs its mayor in some other civic body too," he added.
NDA allies demand convener
The shadow of an imminent divorce between the BJP and the Shiv Sena loomed large over the NDA meeting on Sunday with allies pitching for a mechanism to improve coordination and Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing the ruling alliance as "one big family." In his introductory remarks at the meeting, not attended by the Sena, Modi said NDA allies may have different ideologies but they are like one big family and should not get unsettled by small differences.
Had a very good NDA meeting. Our alliance represents India's diversity and the aspirations of 130 crore Indians. Together, we will leave no stone unturned in ushering a qualitative change in the lives of our farmers, youngsters, Nari Shakti and the poorest of the poor. pic.twitter.com/Mm8Rc5kkaO
" Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 17, 2019
The meeting, also attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP's working president JP Nadda, was called for better floor management and coordination during the winter session, beginning on Monday. Various NDA allies, including newly appointed LJP president Chirag Paswan, desired to have a convener or coordination committee to sort out differences.
"I personally felt the absence of Shiv Sena in the meeting today, it was one of the oldest allies of NDA. It's a matter of concern that the Telugu Desam Party left the alliance first and then the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party," Paswan said. He said what happened between the BJP and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra could have been avoided if there would have been better coordination among NDA allies. "But all of us (allies) will work together in the upcoming session and more such meetings should happen," he said. "An NDA convener or a coordination committee should be formed for better understanding among allies," said the chief of the Lok Janshakti Party, a key NDA constituent in Bihar. According to sources, Apna Dal, JD(U) and a few allies from the north-eastern states also made similar suggestions.
With inputs from PTI