]The Sharad Pawar-led NCP and Congress on Friday put the ball in Shiv Sena's court on any possible support to form the next government in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Balasaheb Thorat and NCP Mumbai president and chief spokesperson Nawab Malik, in separate press conferences, said that they have been mandated to sit in Opposition benches.
Malik said that the Shiv Sena has stressed that it was 50-50 formula which was decided ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and that they should form the government. "We are ready to sit in the Opposition. If there is a rift between them and the formation of the govt then we will see what to do next," said Malik, a former state labour minister.
Thorat said Congress has not received any formal communication from the Sena on this yet. "However, if it comes, we will discuss (at state level) and shall put it up with the party high command for a decision in the matter," he said.
The Congress, NCP and all its allies together have bagged a significant chunk of 117 seats in the 288-member assembly.
Thorat said that they have accepted the peoples’ verdict with full humility and would play the role of a constructive Opposition for the next five years.
The statement of the two 20-year-old allies comes a day after former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan indicated "interesting possibilities", while NCP veteran Chhagan Bhujbal indicated that "anything was possible" and Shiv Sena could have a chief minister.
However, much depends on what Pawar and the Congress high-command decides.