The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) does not approve of the Congress playing big brother.
Senior NCP leader and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, on Monday, said that his party would want the Congress to follow the 1999 formula-- in which it got 50 per cent Cabinet berths--for distribution of ministerial berths and departments. The Congress wants a bigger pie because it won more seats.
“We will go by the 1999 formula. We will discuss it with the Congress high command if the Congress puts forth any official proposal to reduce our share and exchange departments,” Patel told journalists.
Patel, in a clear move to maintain the pressure on the Congress, said that it (the NCP) would not stake claim to form the government unless the power sharing formula was finalised.
Mohan Prakash, All India Congress Committee secretary (in-charge of Maharashtra), said that senior party leaders would take up the matter. “The senior leaders will resolve this issue soon,” Prakash said.
Patel’s statement is seen as NCP’s hard stance against the Congress’ tactics to pressurise its ally to let go of important portfolios.
The Congress and NCP had forged post-poll alliance to form the government in 1999. Since the Congress won more seats than NCP it got the CM’s post while NCP got the deputy CM’s post and key departments like home, power, finance, rural development, health, public works and higher education.
The NCP wrested a few more departments from the Congress in 2004 because the ally wanted the CM’s post.
Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Ashok Chavan have been insisting that the Congress should get a bigger share of the power pie. “Ministerial berths and portfolios should be distributed on the basis of seats won by both the parties. Since our seats are more, we want a bigger share,” Chavan told Hindustan Times on Monday. The Congress won 82 seats while the NCP won 62.
The Congress also wants the NCP to part with the home, power and finance departments that the latter has been holding for the past ten years.
The council of ministers was reduced to 43 members by a Central legislation six years ago. The 1999 formula, if approved, will also give the NCP the Assembly speaker’s post, which the Congress wants this time.
Chavan said the allies would find an amicable formula to share power.