Congress ‘unsure’ of NCP’s intentions amid talks with Shiv Sena on govt formation in Maharashtra

NCP chief Sharad Pawar stopped Congress from giving support to Shiv Sena before Governor meet, responded to invitation to form government in hurry just in time before PM left for Brazil, say sources.

Updated: Nov 14, 2019 09:02:11

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai

Senior leaders of NCP and Congress during a meeting to discuss the Common Minimum Program in Mumbai on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. (ANI )

Even as the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have begun talks after the Congress leadership appeared to be in favour of a Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra, party’s leaders are sceptical about the NCP’s intentions.

Two incidents since November 11 have raised eyebrows in the Congress camp. The first was when the Congress Working Committee met in New Delhi and discussed a proposal to support a Sena-led government in Maharashtra. As the party was about to convey its opinion to the Sena, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, in a telephonic talk with interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi suggested the two parties put their decision on hold, as he wanted to discuss government formation details with the Sena, said a senior Congress leader.

The second was on Tuesday when the NCP sent an email to Raj Bhavan seeking more time from the Governor to respond whether it could form the government. Immediately after the NCP’s communication, Governor BS Koshyari sent a report to the Centre recommending President’s rule. “The Governor had given the NCP time till 8.30pm [to inform him if the party could form the government], then why did the party choose to communicate at 12.30pm? All of this happened just in time before Prime Minister Modi left for Brazil. We are wondering what the hurry was for the NCP,” said a senior Congress leader.

A section of Congress leaders in Mumbai and Delhi suspect the NCP is not completely on board yet or the party leadership just wants to create an air of suspicion to increase its bargaining power with the Sena and Congress during power-sharing talks.

“The party seems to be divided on forming a government with the Sena. The NCP leadership is still considering whether to take on the mighty Modi government or not. The BJP leadership is clearly not happy that they are losing an important state,” said another Congress functionary.

The leader also said Congress leaders decided to directly get in touch with the Sena leadership to ensure the NCP does not develop cold feet at the eleventh hour.

Late on Tuesday night, senior party leader Ahmed Patel and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray met at a hotel at Bandra-Kurla Complex. On Wednesday, Thackeray held talks with state Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan. “We did not want the NCP to negotiate with Sena on our behalf,” said the Congress functionary.

Hemant Takle, national secretary of NCP, said: “There is no reason to create any suspicion. Following the constitutional procedure, all parties were approached by the Governor. After receiving the letter, we (NCP) started looking at the options. As both Congress and NCP had contested the polls together, it was obvious to have internal discussion before talking to any other party (Shiv Sena). As that process was on, what was wrong in asking for more time? We have no doubt neither the Congress leadership has any over forging an alliance to form the government. The coalition will stable if all the partners join it actively.”


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