Maharashtra will have its new government by this weekend. The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) reached a consensus on sharing power in Maharashtra on Wednesday.
NCP’s negotiator Praful Patel said the allies have worked out a deal. “We are close to finalising the agreement and a formal decision could be made on Thursday afternoon,” Patel said in New Delhi.
A day after Maharashtra Governor S C Jamir issued an ultimatum to the Congress-NCP combine Chief Minister-designate Ashok Chavan on Wednesday said the new government would be formed by Friday.
“We will have the new government in 48 hours,” he told journalists at his Mantralaya office on Wednesday afternoon.
Jamir’s tough talk prompted activities in both parties to gain momentum on Tuesday.
Negotiators from both sides — Ahmed Patel from the Congress and Praful Patel from the NCP— were engaged in talks until late on Wednesday night.
Congress leaders, including A.N. Antony, are likely to discuss the deal on Thursday morning before seeking a nod from Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Sources said the allies would stake their claim to form the government on Thursday. The swearing-in of the first batch of ministers in the new cabinet is likely to take place on Friday. A 2,000-seat tent is ready at the Raj Bhavan for the ceremony.
The Assembly session may begin on Monday. Sources said the NCP had not surrendered any of the key departments to the Congress. The latter was insisting on an additional cabinet berth but the NCP was not keen.
State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said the Congress did not demand any department from the NCP. “Our main contention was distribution of cabinet berths based on the strength of each party.”
The Congress, which has 82 seats in the Assembly, wanted at least 23 berths whereas the NCP was insisting on distributing the berths equally. It is unclear whether the NCP--with 62 seats in the Assembly—will allow the Congress a bigger share in the 43-member council of ministers.
Patel and senior state NCP leaders met party boss Sharad Pawar in Delhi before meeting Congress negotiator Ahmed Patel.