Ten days after it came back to power, the Congress-NCP alliance struggled to form a government in Maharashtra after another round of planned portfolio-sharing talks between the two parties tonight failed to take place in Mumbai.
Leaders of the Congress and the NCP held meetings of their respective parties in Mumbai to find a way out of the portfolio sharing impasse but gave no signs of quickly breaking the stalemate holding up government formation.
NCP is demanding 50 per cent of the total 42 portfolios while the Congress wants the number of ministries to be proportionate to the strength of the allies in the Assembly and key ministries like Home which was with NCP.
Leaders of Congress and NCP were scheduled to meet at 'Varsha', Chief Minister-designate Ashok Chavan's official residence. But NCP Legislature Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal said the NCP team would not be going to 'Varsha' to continue the talks. The talks were to be initially held in New Delhi but later shifted to Mumbai.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) President Manikrao Thakre and Mumbai unit chief Kripashankar Singh were at Chavan's residence.
When contacted, Thakre said NCP leaders informed him that they were yet to conclude their internal deliberations on the issue of portfolio sharing.
"We will wait for them," Thakre said.
The delay in government formation triggered calls by BJP leader Eknath Khadse that the BJP-Shiv Sena opposition alliance will seek imposition of President's rule in the state if the new government is not in place by November three, when the tenure of the present Assembly expires.
But Chavan has dismissed suggestions of a Constitutional crisis in the state if the new government was not sworn-in by Tuesday.