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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

NCP, Congress look to up tension in high-voltage Maharashtra power tussle

Both the opposition parties -- Congress and the NCP - have alleged that the BJP was using various methods to poach their MLAs, as it is short of 25 for simple majority in the Maharashtra assembly.

mumbai Updated: Nov 08, 2019 09:17 IST
Faisal Malik and Surendra P Gangan
Faisal Malik and Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
NCP chief Sharad Pawar canceled his three-day tour of rain-affected areas of Maharashtra  and is expected to meet party leaders in Mumbai on November 8, 2019.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar canceled his three-day tour of rain-affected areas of Maharashtra and is expected to meet party leaders in Mumbai on November 8, 2019.(PTI)
         

With Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray refusing to accept any offer from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government, the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) geared up on Thursday to work out an alternative plan, in case the saffron combine falls apart.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar has called off his three-day tour of rain-affected areas and is expected to hold meetings with senior party leaders in Mumbai on Friday. The Congress has asked all its newly elected MLAs to reach Mumbai, after a few of them complained to the party leadership that they were being wooed by the BJP to change sides. Both the Opposition parties alleged that the BJP was using various methods to poach their MLAs, as it is short of 25 for simple majority.

“Our party MLAs are getting phone calls with offers to join the BJP. They used these tactics even before the elections to poach our legislators. We are sure that none of our MLAs will desert the party,” said Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat.

Also Watch l ‘No plans to go with Shiv Sena’: NCP Chief Sharad Pawar 

NCP’s state unit chief Jayant Patil, too, said their MLAs were being wooed to shift the loyalties.

The Congress and NCP have been tapping the possibility of forming the government if the BJP fails to get Shiv Sena’s support. “There is consensus between both the parties on state level over the alternative of backing a Sena-led government. The Congress’s central leadership is not fully convinced about the option, but the state leadership is optimistic about getting a nod from party president. Pawar is expected to meet Congress leaders from the state on Friday and then hold a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi for a final decision,” said a senior Congress leader.

According to NCP leaders in the know of deliberations between the two parties, the Congress may extend outside support to the Sena government. The smaller allies and independents are also expected to be on board with the two parties. “Although the tally between the Shiv Sena and NCP reaches 110 (56 and 54), our plan is to get 125 MLAs with support from independents and smaller allies. The Congress is not expected to participate in the government owing to its apprehension of strong reactions from Dalits and Muslims. It will support us from outside. We are sure that some Congress MLAs may vote in favour of the Sena-NCP even if the party decides to abstain from vote of confidence,” said a NCP functionary.

The BJP and Shiv Sena have 105 and 56 seats, respectively. The NCP bagged 54 seats and the Congress 44. The NCP is counting on Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (three seats), Bachchu Kadu-led Prahar Janshakti Party (two seats), Samajwadi Party (two seats), Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha (one seat) and seven independents to touch 125. The halfway mark in the legislative Assembly is 145. But if the Congress abstains from voting, it will come down to 124-125 seats.

“Before making any direct attempt to form the government, the Shiv Sena has to play an active role as the second largest party. It will have to make its stand clear by either pulling out of the central government or taking a stand against the BJP during the floor test. The NCP and Congress will come into picture in the wake of failure of the BJP to give a majority government,” said a senior NCP leader.

State NCP president Jayant Patil reiterated party chief Sharad Pawar’s statement that people’s mandate for them was to sit in the opposition and they are prepared for that. “We [Congress and NCP] don’t have the numbers to form the government. It is with the BJP and Shiv Sena. We want them to resolve issues and form the government as early as possible,” Patil said.

Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan had said on Wednesday that not only their party leaders but even the people of Maharashtra want the BJP to be kept out of power. “But for it, the Sena will have to play an active role,” he said.