Seems like it is back to square one for Maharashtra government formation. After NCP chief Sharad Pawar saying that Uddhav was the "unanimous" chief minister's choice among the newly-formed allies Congress-NCP-Sena, leaders of all the three parties have given vague and unclear statements to the press.
While Congress' Ahmed Patel and Prithviraj Chavan said that the talks will continue on Saturday, as today's meeting was "inconclusive", NCP's Nawab Malik said, "We have asked Uddhav Thackeray to be the chief minister. So far, he has not denied the role. If he takes responsibility, it will be good for the state government. If he denies or suggests someone else's name, we have to accept it. Everything will be decided tomorrow and announced in the joint press conference."
Within a span of an hour, the situation on Friday evening appeared to swing from being completely resolved to being completely unclear.
Earlier on Friday evening, the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Shiv Sena finally appeared to be ready with a concrete plan for government formation, with Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister. However, uncertainty still prevails on this count. The three parties are presently speaking in different voices, with Pawar saying that a consensus has been reached on the leadership of Thackeray, and the Congress' Prithviraj Chavan issuing a non-committal statement saying that discussions are still on.
Here are the key highlights from Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena meeting in South Mumbai
- Uddhav Thackeray will be the next Maharashtra Chief Minister
- Congress-NCP-Sena to jointly brief the media tomorrow
- Parties will decide tomorrow when to approach Governor Koshyari to stake claim to form the new Maharashtra government
- Another round of meeting will be held when with Sonia Gandhi to finalise portfolios for the Congress MLAs
- Uddhav Thackeray's voice is final in the Sena and that won't leave any space for any dissent
- We have come to a conclusion on many things, but we don't want to leave anything undecided, says Uddhav, referring to the Common Minimum Programme
Pawar says unanimous, Ahmed Patel says 'talks inconclusive'
Pawar said, "Tomorrow a press conference will be held by the three parties. Discussions will continue. Tomorrow we will also decide when to approach the Governor." Meanwhile, the Congress says, "We will most likely go to the Governor tomorrow too. Also, another round of meeting will be held when with Sonia Gandhi to finalise portfolios for the Congress MLAs."
The three parties will hold a joint press conference on Saturday. Coming out of the venue as the meeting ended, Uddhav says, "We have decided on the future course of Maharashtra." While reports have also said that the three parties are likely to meet the Maharashtra governor on Saturday, no official statement in this regard has yet been made.
Earlier, emerging from a marathon meeting of top leaders of the Congress, the NCP and the Sena, who are making efforts to form government in Maharashtra, Pawar said there was a consensus on Thackeray's leadership. "The issue of leadership is not pending. There are no two opinions on the issue of chief ministership. There was a consensus on Uddhav Thackeray leading the new government," he told reporters after the meeting.
When asked if Thackeray, who is not yet a legislator, will be the new chief minister, Pawar shot back, "Don't you understand Hindi? The new government will be led by Uddhav Thackeray."
However, asked about Pawar's statement on Thackeray's leadership, Sena MLA Eknath Shinde, who attended the meeting, separately told reporters there was "no discussion on that issue".
Quoting sources, India Today reported that all the three alliance parties — Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP — agreed to Shiv Sena getting 16 ministerial berths, NCP 14 and Congress 12. Other details like Speaker, deputy Speaker, important corporations are being discussed. That has been left for state leaders to decide, the report added.
Chavan refused to answer a specific question on whether Thackeray would be the chief minister, saying that the Congress would make its stand clear on Saturday. Chavan said, "Today leaders of three parties — NCP Congress Shiv Sena — jointly met. All senior leaders were present. It was a positive meeting. But it is not over. The meeting will continue tomorrow."
Ahmed Patel also said that talks were inconclusive and discussions will continue tomorrow.
Eknath Shinde, Subhash Desai, Sanjay Raut (all Shiv Sena), Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, K C Venugopal, Avinash Pande, Balasaheb Thorat, Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), Praful Patel, Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar (NCP) took part in the meeting of the three parties on Friday evening.
Thackeray himself was quoted by India Today as saying, "We have come to a conclusion on many things, but we don't want to leave anything undecided. This is the first time we have come together like this and we want unity on everything between us and then we will come to you. We will not go before the janta without sorting out all our issues. Everything will be dealt with. It was the first meeting between all the three parties. Finishing touches are being given to the alliance. I don't want any issue to be left discussed between three parties before going public."
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut lashed out at the BJP, as he had been doing for the several days. When asked if the BJP had offered Sena a chief minister's post for two and a half years, he said, "Now, even if they offer Lord Indra’s seat, we don’t want it. The time is gone." In the early morning hours, Raut had tweeted —
— Sanjay Raut (@rautsanjay61) November 22, 2019
The state has been facing a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister's post.
The BJP and the Sena, which fought the Assembly polls in alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly. The NCP and the Congress, pre-poll allies, won 54 and 44 seats, respectively.
The combined tally of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress is way beyond the majority mark of 145. The state is currently under President's rule.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 22, 2019 21:23:40 IST