Governor SC Jamir appears to have managed what days of negotiations could not: pushed the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) towards closing a deal.
Jamir summoned Chief Minister Ashok Chavan (Congress) and Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP) separately on Tuesday morning and told them they would have to form the government in a few days.
Hindustan Times had reported on Tuesday that Jamir had begun consulting legal experts on options as the allies failed to reach an agreement on power-sharing more than 10 days after the results were declared on October 22.
Praful Patel, the NCP’s negotiator with the Congress in Delhi, however, laid to rest worries that the NCP would not participate in the government. “The NCP will be part of the new government in Maharashtra. Negotiations are on and all issues will be sorted out soon. I am sure in a day or two, all issues will be resolved,’’ Patel told reporters on Tuesday.
The NCP leader is expected to talk to Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and A.K. Antony soon. Earlier in the day, Bhujbal created panic in the Congress camp by saying that his party would support the Congress from the outside if the two parties fail to work out a power-sharing formula. “We assured the Governor that we were with the Congress and would support their government from outside if things did not fall in place,” Bhujbal had said.
The Congress, which won 82 of the Assembly’s 288 seats in the polls, said it was ready to sort out issues with the NCP. A cautious Chavan said, “We will talk it out in a day or two and then form our government.”
Sources said the government was likely to be sworn in on Thursday or Friday.
The two parties are discussing a formula under which the Congress wants 22 ministerial berths, leaving 20 for the NCP. The NCP would get to keep key departments such as home, finance and energy and the Assembly Speaker’s post.
The NCP, which won 62 seats, is also ready to return three departments that it took from Congress in 2004. The Congress is likely to settle for fewer important departments.
State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said, “The new government will not stay long in power if any of the allies is unhappy. Hence, we need to have a positive approach in resolving the situation.”
Jamir will give the Opposition a hearing on Wednesday. The Shiv Sena-BJP combine has urged him to recommend President’s Rule in the state in view of what it termed the prevalent political instability.