The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has refused to strike a power sharing deal that allows the Congress more Cabinet berths and lucrative departments.
The two parties together won a simple majority in October 13 Assembly polls but the NCP’s refusal to give the Congress a letter of support has delayed the formation of a government.
The Congress remained adamant on its demand for additional Cabinet berths, including important portfolios like home, energy, finance and rural and tribal development. The NCP is not ready to part with the first three but is prepared to exchange the remaining two for urban development and social justice.
The existing Assembly dissolves on Tuesday and panicky state Congress leaders decided to take the matter up with the party leadership in New Delhi. “Sushilkumar Shinde (Union power minister) and Shivraj Patil (ex-Union home minister) will discuss the matter with the high command,” said a senior Congress leader who attended a high-level meeting at Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s official residence on Monday evening.
The meeting between Chavan and senior Congress leaders went on till late in the evening. Earlier in the day, Thakre said that his party had discussed all options with the NCP. “But there was no breakthrough.”
NCP leaders were not ready for any conditional talks and maintained their demand for the 1999 formula, which calls for equitable distribution of cabinet berths.
NCP boss Sharad Pawar seemed to be in no hurry to listen to the Congress as he spent Monday watching the India-Australia one-dayer in Mohali.
But Deputy CM Bhujbal assured that the NCP would not allow any party other than the Congress to come to power in the state. “It’s fair enough if the Congress does not match up our demands but we will ensure that our ally runs the government smoothly. We will support the Congress from outside,” he said.