We want 21 berths: NCP | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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We want 21 berths: NCP

mumbai Updated: Oct 31, 2009 01:09 IST
HT Correspondent

Talks between the Congress and its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), continued for the third day in a row as the NCP refused to accept anything less than half the ministerial berths in the state government.

This has now further delayed the process of formation of government though both parties have begun internal deliberations on choosing ministers.

The NCP continued to mount pressure on the Congress when it came out with a firm demand on power sharing on Friday. It wants an unwilling Congress to give it 21 berths in the 43-member council of ministers.

“Our stand is consistent,” said senior NCP leader Praful Patel. “We want the distribution done according to the 1999 formula that gave us half the share.” NCP chief Sharad Pawar who held parleys with his party colleagues in Mumbai on Friday refused to talk to media.

The Congress has not yet responded to the NCP indicating that the swearing-in of the Ashok Chavan-led Cabinet would get delayed further.

The two parties had earlier planned that the Cabinet would take oath on Sunday and the Assembly would be convened for the trust vote later next week. But the impasse is expected to continue for a few more days because the Congress high command would like to discuss this demand with its counterparts in the NCP on Saturday or Sunday.

The swearing-in ceremony may take place in the middle of next week.

The Congress has demanded more ministerial berths because of its swollen numbers in the Assembly polls. There are 42 berths in the state ministry, barring that of the chief minister, of which the NCP wants half.

It has also refused to give up any of the important departments like home, finance, energy and rural development that are crucial in carrying out overall development work.

The top brass of both the parties have begun deliberations separately to select the ministers. Chavan had a meeting with Congress leader A.K. Antony while Pawar held meetings with party colleagues in Mumbai.