Millennium Post

Cong-NCP, Sena prepare for common ground

Cong-NCP, Sena prepare for common ground

New Delhi: There seems to be some conclusion in sight for the Maharashtra impasse after the Congress leaders met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday to discuss the modalities of a "Common Minimum Programme" (CMP) for a possible alliance to form government in the state.

According to party insiders, the Chief Minister's post would go to the Shiv Sena while the post of deputy CM would be held by either the NCP or Congress.

Meanwhile, breaking his silence on the logjam for the first time, BJP chief Amit Shah rejected the Shiv Sena's claim that it was promised rotational chief ministership in a new Maharashtra government and instead accused its estranged ally of coming up with post-electoral conditions that could not be accepted.

"Before the elections, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I had said many times in public that Devendra Fadnavis will be the Chief Minister if the alliance wins. Nobody objected back then. Now, they have come up with new demands that are not acceptable to us. Even today if any party has a majority, then it may meet the Governor to stake claim," Shah told a news agency in his first remarks ever since the BJP fell out with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

While taking the first step towards government formation in Maharashtra, a 10-member team of the NCP and Congress on Wednesday met to discuss the CMP.

Senior leaders of the two parties reiterated that the first round of discussions would only include members of Congress and NCP and talks with the Shiv Sena will be held after the leaders of two parties reach a consensus on the CMP.

"As far as discussion on Shiv Sena goes, we will do that only after discussing with alliance partners as we had a common manifesto. Shiv Sena's manifesto was different, so we will have an understanding with Congress first and then go ahead with discussions on Shiv Sena," said Ajit Pawar, senior NCP leader.

The leaders who have been nominated by the Congress for the team are Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Manikrao Thakre, Balasaheb Thorat and Vijay Wadettiwar and leaders from NCP in the committee are Jayant Patil, Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal, Dhananjay Munde and Nawab Malik.

Sources privy to the developments said the effort would be to have a complete agreement between Sena and NCP-Congress on every issue of their coming together. It would deal with a share of ministerial berths, inking a CMP which would aim at making Sena shed some of its traditional 'Hindutva-Maharashtra planks' which has been in conflict with the NCP-Congress' 'social thrust'.

On the other hand, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar is likely to meet Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi during the weekend to firm up alliance talks with the Shiv Sena for government formation.

Maharashtra was brought under the President's Rule on Tuesday after all the major parties failed to get the required number in the Assembly.

Earlier in the day, all the 54 MLAs of NCP met and demanded that the government in the state should be finalised at the earliest. "In the meeting, all our MLAs said that the government should be formed as early as possible. Even I think before the New Year begins, Maharashtra should get a new government," Pawar added. See P5

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