Pawar meets Sonia, says govt formation with Sena in Maha not discussed; non-committal on Sena alliance

New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 18 (PTI) After a meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday queered the pitch for the Shiv Sena in formation of a new government in Maharashtra, saying this issue was not discussed and remained non-committal in forging an alliance with its political rival.

As the deadlock over the government formation entered the 26th day with no signs of an early resolution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set tongues wagging when he praised the Nationalist Congress Party(NCP), the Congress' pre-poll ally, in the Rajya Sabha for strictly 'adhering to parliamentary norms'. Maharashtra is currently under President's rule.

Addressing the Rajya Sabha on the occasion of its 250th session, Modi said, 'Today I want to appreciate two parties, NCP and BJD. These parties have strictly adhered to parliamentary norms.' The Biju Janata Dal(BJD) headed by Naveen Patnaik is the ruling party in Odisha.

Modi said the members of the two parties never rush to the well of the House to raise their issues and yet highlight their points effectively.

Keeping his cards close to his chest, Pawar said he only discussed the political situation in Maharashtra with Sonia Gandhi and that the NCP and the Congress will hold talks with their other allies before taking a decision on government formation.

Pawar, whose meeting with Gandhi at her residence in Delhi was being billed as a major step towards a possible tie-up with the Sena, said if the NCP and the Congress have to take a view on forming a new government they have to first discuss it between themselves.

Addressing a press conference after his 50 minute-long meeting with Gandhi, he also said there was also no discussion on a common minimum programme.

'There was no talk of government formation in our meeting. This meeting was all about discussing Congress and NCP and the situation in the state,' Pawar said.

'We will keep an eye on the situation in Maharashtra. Congress and NCP leaders will hold further talks on the future course of action,' he added.

The Congress for its part took to Twitter to say that the representatives of the pre-poll allies will meet in Delhi to discuss the way forward.

'Sharad Pawar met the Congress President today and briefed her on the situation in Maharashtra. It was decided that in a day or two, representatives from NCP and Congress will meet in Delhi to discuss the way forward,' Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a tweet.

Ahead of his meeting with Gandhi, Pawar said all political parties seeking to stake claim to form the government had to 'choose their own paths'.

Pawar evaded a direct reply when asked by reporters if he would rule out the NCP supporting the BJP in forming the government and pointed out that the BJP was his party's major opponent in the Assembly polls.

'The BJP and the Sena contested the polls jointly. Ask them why are they not forming the government,' he said.

Significantly, the BJP pulled out of the mayoral poll in Mumbai due on November 22 that left the Sena retaining the mayor's post a mere formality.

There was no response to Pawar's remarks from the Shiv Sena, which is banking on the support of the NCP and Congress to keep its estranged ally BJP out of power.

The NCP is in talks with the Congress for a possible coalition with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena after the latter's alliance with the BJP fell apart over the chief minister's post.

Uddhav Thackeray, meanwhile, put off his November 24 visit to Ayodhya, said a Sena leader, who did not want to be identified.

'The government formation process is taking time. Leaders of the three parties (Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress) are holding meetings. They are inching towards government formation. In view of these developments, Uddhavji has decided to postpone his visit to Ayodhya,' he added.

Pawar stressed on the need to talk to allies like the Samajwadi party, Republican Party of India (Kawade faction), Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and the Peasants Workers Party. 'Their views cannot be overlooked'.

Some of the allies got upset over the possibility of a Congress-NCP-Sena alliance, he said.

'Whenever you discuss about any political situation, then those who have fought with your allies, they have to be taken into confidence,' Pawar asserted.

'We have not discussed about whether to go with any party or not,' he said, underlining that the Congress and the NCP fought the polls together.

'If they have to take a view then they have to discuss this themselves. But we also have to take into confidence other colleagues,' the NCP chief said.

Maharashtra was placed under the President's rule on November 12 after no party or alliance staked claim to form a government in the state.

Pawar's meeting with the Congress chief comes a day after the NCP's core committee meeting in Pune resolved that the President's rule should end and an alternative government be formed.

After Shiv Sena MPs were allotted seats on the Opposition side in Parliament, Sena MP Sanjay Raut hit back at the BJP, saying the NDA government at the Centre is not the property of one party but some are 'considering themselves God'.

In the October 21 Maharashtra polls, the BJP-Sena saffron alliance secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress and the NCP won 44 and 54 seats respectively.PTI PR ASK MPB ND NSK VT GSN GSNGSN