The process for the formation of the Maharashtra government descended into utter chaos on Monday, as Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari invited first the Shiv Sena and then the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form the government. At the end of a day marked by press conferences, meetings and frantic phone conversations, there was still no concrete possibility of a government in sight.
The prevailing confusion can be gauged from the remarks of NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who said that he did not know "why we are being invited to form the government." The NCP was invited by the governor although it has just 54 MLAs in a 288-member Assembly, and is the third largest party in the state.
This a day after the BJP said it cannot form the government. The Sena claimed the BJP promised it an equal share in power before Lok Sabha election, which, it said, meant that notwithstanding its seat share (56), it was entitled to chief minister's post for half the term of the elected Assembly. The BJP, however, denied agreeing to such an arrangement. The party now says it will wait and watch events unfolding.
The situation appears a retread of the one that occurred in Karnataka earlier this year, when political wrangling stretched for over a month, till the BJP's BS Yediyurappa was sworn in as chief minister.
Sena expresses willingness
Earlier in the day, a delegation of Shiv Sena leaders met Governor BS Koshyari and expressed the party's willingness to form the government, but could not submit the "requisite letter of support", Raj Bhavan said.
The Sena sought a three-day extension for submitting the letter of support, but the governor declined to accept the request, a Raj Bhavan statement read.
"The Sena could not submit the requisite letter of support. The Sena further submitted a letter requesting three-day extension of the deadline (which ended 7.30 pm on Monday) for submitting the letter of support. The governor expressed his inability to give any further extension," the statement read.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the governor, Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, a member of the delegation, said his party's claim on formation of the government still stands as two parties have agreed "in-principle" to support a Sena-led government.
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and was learnt to have requested the latter to extend his party's support in forming government, sources told PTI.
Thackeray and Pawar held parley at a suburban hotel ahead of the 7.30 pm deadline set by Governor Koshyari for the Sena to stake claim for government formation.
During their 45-minute meeting, the two leaders also discussed the 'common minimum programme', including the agrarian issue, that will guide the action of their government in case it is formed, the sources said.
Thackeray also called up Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi twice in an hour to seek her party's support.
Will consult ally, says NCP
The NCP's state unit chief Jayant Patil said the party will discuss the issue with its ally, the Congress, and get back to Koshyari by or before 8:30 pm on Tuesday. Patil, however, didn't mention government formation while talking to reporters.
"As per the procedure, the governor has given us a letter being the third largest party in the state of Maharashtra and therefore, we have suggested to him that we will have to talk to our alliance partner. We have assured him that we will get back to him as early as possible," Patil said.
Earlier in the day, party leader Nawab Malik said it is the responsibility of "all of us" to give an alternative considering the plight of people in the state. He also said that communication was going on between the Shiv Sena and NCP.
Raj Bhavan Press Release 11 November 2019 / 9.37 PM pic.twitter.com/8ScUIlrizz
— Governor of Maharashtra (@maha_governor) November 11, 2019
Top Congress leaders, former Maharashtra chief ministers Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde as well as state unit chief Balasaheb Thorat met Sonia on Monday evening to decide on whether or not to support the Sena.
Earlier in the day, all senior members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met at Sonia's residence. However, the meeting was inconclusive and the party leadership decided to meet again at 4 pm, amid indications that the legislators were not in favour of fresh elections in the state.
Senior leaders AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, K C Venugopal also attended the meeting in the evening.
Sonia also spoke with senior Maharashtra Congress leader Nana Patole and discussed the political possibilities, sources said. The Congress is a democratic party and all decisions are taken after extensive discussions, Patole said.
According to media reports, the Congress leadership is not in favour of joining the state government but has considered offering support from the outside. However, the newly-elected MLAs of the party in the state are said to be "keen" to provide support and "become part of the government formation."
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 11, 2019 23:32:40 IST