The government formation in Maharashtra is likely to be delayed further as both alliance partners, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), are bargaining for key portfolios and their share in the new council of ministers.
Having won 20 seats more than the NCP this time, the Congress has sought a fresh power sharing formula with its 10-year-old ally and set its eyes on key portfolios of home, finance, power and public works department (PWD).
The Congress has won 82 seats while the NCP bagged 62 in the 2009 elections.
The NCP, however, insisted on a repeat of the 1999 formula under which it got the four important portfolios of home, finance, power and PWD but conceded the chief minister’s post to the Congress.
“There can be some room of negotiations over the number of ministers but not on portfolios,” NCP general secretary P A Sangma said. “A little bit of here and there happens” was his response to the Congress’ demand for key portfolios.
It’s not only the distribution of portfolios that is holding up government formation. The two sides are also locked in a verbal battle over their shares in the new council of ministers.
On its part, the Congress wants a lion’s share in the government that would be in proportion to its strength in the 288-member assembly.
“Each partner gets ministerial berths on the basis of seats won. It is the convention followed in coalition politics,” said a senior Congress leader who did not wish to be named.
Besides, the Maharashtra chief minister can have a maximum of 42 ministers.
“We will press for 4:1 or 5:1 ratio that is prevalent at the central level,” he said. “But NCP is a hard bargainer. It should remember that despite winning only eight seats, we gave them three cabinet berths in the central government.”
Amid hardening of their respective positions, leaders of the two parties have begun talks on government formation.