A day after President's Rule was imposed in Maharashtra, the political impasse in the state continued on Wednesday with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress holding hectic parleys throughout the day to reach a consensus on a common minimum programme (CMP).
Apart from a single meeting with the Congress, the Shiv Sena largely appeared to be waiting for a consensus to be reached between the Congress and the NCP. After an hour-long meeting with the Congress, Uddhav Thackeray said the talks for government formation were progressing in the "right direction" while state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat dubbed the meeting as "a courtesy call."
Responding to Congress' allegations that President's Rule in the state had been imposed in a hurry, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah claimed that no other state had been given 18 days to form the government. In his first reaction to the political crisis in Maharahstra, Shah challenged the NCP and the Congress to stake claim to government formation.
Congress, NCP hold meeting to discuss CMP
The Congress and the NCP said that they will hold talks to decide on a common minimum programme (CMP) before working out the possibility of tying up with the Shiv Sena.
Uddhav Thackeray met Maharashtra Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan and Manikrao Thakare at a suburban hotel in Mumbai for over an hour in the morning. The talks for government formation were progressing in the "right direction", he said after the meeting. State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat dubbed the meeting with Thackeray as a "courtesy call", and added the fact that they were meeting was itself a "positive" step.
Meanwhile the NCP named five members for a joint committee to be formed with the Congress for deciding a 'common minimum programme' before their possible alliance with the Shiv Sena. NCP's legislature party head Ajit Pawar, its Maharashtra chief Jayant Patil, party veteran Chhagan Bhujbal, Mumbai unit president Nawab Malik and Leader of the Opposition in state Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde were named to the committee.
Patil told reporters after meeting Sharad Pawar that a power sharing formula was not being discussed as yet. "We have not set any conditions before the Shiv Sena. Right now, we are working on an agenda for governance. Arvind Sawant has quit the Narendra Modi government and we believe through this step, the Sena has officially pulled out of the BJP-led NDA," he said.
Senior Congress leader Avinash Pande said the party will try to support government formation in Maharashtra, keeping intact its ideology and will go ahead on the basis of a common minimum programme.
The Congress too set up a committee consisting of Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Manikrao Thakre, Balasaheb Thorat and Vijay Wadettiwar for talks on a Common Minimum Programme with the NCP .
Chavan said the talks of government formation will start only after top leaders of the three parties approve the CMP. Regarding speculation that the Congress may get the posts of deputy chief minister and Assembly speaker in the new arrangement, while the chief minister's post will be held by the NCP and Sena for 2.5 years each, Chavan said that a power-sharing formula was not being discussed now.
Earlier, he had also said that the party was on an alert to prevent a possible "Operation Lotus"— attempts by the BJP to engineer defections from other parties — in Maharashtra.
While reports had suggested a meeting between the NCP and Congress would take place in Delhi over the next three or four days, the NCP and Congress held a meeting on Wednesday evening.
In a related development, the Congress MLAs who had been staying at a resort in Jaipur returned to Mumbai on Wednesday. Shiv Sena MLAs who were staying at the Retreat Resort in Mumbai too were told to return to their respective constituencies, reported News18 Lokmat.
BJP casts doubt over government formation
The BJP meanwhile challenged the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena to form a government. The party hit out at its former ally and claimed that the Sena had made demands post the Assembly elections which were unacceptable. "We were ready to form the government with the Shiv Sena. But there were certain things of Shiv Sena we could not have agreed to. We fought the elections in an alliance. We are the single largest party. When the ally tried to put a condition, which was not acceptable ... we cannot form the government on our own as we have 105 seats, what can we do," he said during an interview with ANI.
"The BJP and the Shiv Sena got an absolute majority in Maharashtra Assembly polls but could not form the government due to differences over power-sharing. The Shiv Sena insisted on having the chief minister's post for two-and-a-half-year but the BJP said there was no such agreement," he claimed.
Shah said that the BJP had maintained that Devendra Fadnavis would be the chief minister during political rallies but said contradictory claims had not been raised at the time.
"During the campaign, I said hundred times; the prime minister said many times; Devendra Fadnavis himself said many times that if an alliance government is formed, he would be the chief minister. Nobody contradicted (this stand). Some new conditions have come; we have reservations also and will discuss them at an appropriate time," he said.
Alleging that the Opposition was indulging in politics over the imposition of President's Rule, Shah challenged the NCP and Congress to stake claim to government formation. They can come together and go to the Governor now if they have the numbers. Where is the question of not giving opportunity?," he said.
Strongly refuting the Congress' allegations that the President's Rule was imposed in a hurry, he claimed that the NCP on Tuesday afternoon had sent a letter to to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari expressing inability to form government. The Governor recommended President's Rule only after the tenure of the Assembly ended, he said.
Earlier in the day, the BJP had tried to needle its ally-turned-foe by saying that it was up to the Sena to fit its Hindutva agenda in the CMP with Congress.
The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, did not mention in the Supreme Court its plea challenging the Governor's decision not to grant it three days' time to get the letter of support to form the government. Sena lawyers told PTI that the party preferred not to mention the petition as there was a change in the situation after the imposition of President's rule. There is no urgency now and the lawyers will wait for the instructions, they added.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who had been admitted to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai for an angioplasty, was discharged on Wednesday.
President's Rule had been imposed in the state on Tuesday, after the governor sent in his recommendation to do so. He had invited the Shiv Sena, the second largest party to form government on Monday, a day after the BJP had declined to stake claim. As the Shiv Sena could not provide the requisite letters of support from its alliance partners, the governor had then invited the NCP, the third largest party to form government.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Nov 14, 2019 00:02:25 IST