Pawar, Sonia want wider consultations on Maharashtra

Pawar, Sonia want wider consultations on Maharashtra

Pawar's cryptic remarks earlier on Monday that BJP-Shiv Sena have to “find their own way” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's praise for the NCP for never storming the well in the Rajya Sabha triggered speculation about new equations emerging in the state.

Suspense over government formation in Maharashtra continued on Monday with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress President Sonia Gandhi seeking wider consultations on extending support to the Shiv Sena.

After a 45-minute meeting with Gandhi, Pawar said the minor allies of Congress-NCP coalition, such as Raju Shetti's Swabhimani Paksha, RPI (Kawade), Samajwadi Party and, Peasants and Workers Party of India, need to be consulted before taking any decision.

Pawar also rubbished reports that he was also negotiating with the BJP for supporting a minority government helmed by Devendra Fadnavis. “There is no question of supporting the BJP, we are having discussions with the Congress,” the NCP supremo told reporters here.

Maharashtra election results were declared on October 24 with BJP emerging as the single largest party with 105 seats, followed by Shiv Sena (56), NCP (54) and Congress (44). Sena had a public fall out with its senior ally BJP and refused to support it in government formation.

Separately, Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said that leaders of Congress and NCP will meet in the national capital in a day or two to discuss the way forward.

Pawar's cryptic remarks earlier on Monday that BJP-Shiv Sena have to “find their own way” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's praise for the NCP for never storming the well in the Rajya Sabha triggered speculation about new equations emerging in the state.

Adding to the suspense were Union Minister Ramdas Athawale's remarks that he was working on a compromise formula that would offer Shiv Sena the chief minister's post for two years. Athawale, who heads the Republican Party of India (A), claimed that he had spoken to Sena leader Sanjay Raut and had received a positive response.

Home Minister Amit Shah pleaded ignorance about Athawale's overtures.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday evening, Pawar repeatedly denied that he had any discussion on supporting Shiv Sena government during his meeting with Gandhi.

“There was no discussion on government formation. I only briefed her about the political situation in Maharashtra,” he said.

In a related development, BJP decided against contesting the November 22 Mayoral election for the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, thereby clearing the way for Shiv Sena to retain the post.

An influential section within the Congress has been opposed to any tie-up with the Shiv Sena, but Gandhi was under immense pressure from the Maharashtra leaders of her party to be a part of the government in the state.