Decks clear for Sena-NCP-Congress govt in Maharashtra

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar. (L to R)

Clear indications emerged on Wednesday night on formation of the new government in Maharashtra with Congress President Sonia Gandhi giving the green light for an alliance with Shiv Sena.

Gandhi's go-ahead came when Congress leaders A K Antony, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, K C Venugopal and leaders from Maharashtra met her at her 10, Janpath residence before joining an NCP delegation led by Sharad Pawar to finalise a power-sharing proposal for the Shiv Sena.

“It is clear that there can be no new government in Maharashtra without coming together of NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik told reporters here after a four-hour meeting with Congress leaders at Pawar's residence.

Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan refrained from making any reference to the Shiv Sena, but added that Maharashtra would get a “stable government soon”.

Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut pitched Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray's candidature for the post of the Maharashtra Chief Minister. “The entire state has expressed the desire that Uddhav Thackeray should lead the state,” Raut told reporters here.

Maharashtra will get a new government in the next four to five days, Raut said adding that the swearing-in ceremony will be held at the iconic Shivaji Park in central Mumbai.

The power-sharing proposal finalised by the Congress-NCP would be handed over the Shiv Sena for comments, which are expected in a day or two.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut was scheduled to meet Pawar late Wednesday night and apprise party chief Uddhav Thackeray of proposal given by the Congress-NCP.

President's Rule was imposed in Maharashtra on November 12 after none of the parties – BJP, Shiv Sena or the NCP could rustle up majority to stake claim to form the government.

BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had emerged as a clear winner in the October 21 assembly elections by winning 161 seats together. However, Sena walked out of the alliance accusing the BJP of reneging on the promise of equal sharing of the chief minister's post, turning the BJP's victory celebrations sour. BJP had won 105 seats, Sena (56), NCP (54) and Congress (44) in the 288-member assembly.

Congress too was apprehensive over joining hands with Shiv Sena, which it considered an ideological opposite. However, pressure from Maharashtra Congress leaders and reasoning by senior leaders that a tie-up with Sena was necessary to keep the "greater evil" BJP away from power in a key state like Maharashtra.

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