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Uddhav will lead alliance, says Sharad Pawar after NCP, Cong, Sena meet

The Shiv Sena, which had broken up with its ally of three decades Bharatiya Janata Party over its refusal to share the chief minister’s chair, will get to hold the top post in the government for the next five years.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2019 22:45 IST
HT  Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP have made it clear that it would be best if Uddhav Thackeray, the 59-year-old supremo of the Sena, assumes the chief minister’s chair.
The Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP have made it clear that it would be best if Uddhav Thackeray, the 59-year-old supremo of the Sena, assumes the chief minister’s chair.(Satish Bate/HT Photo)
         

Uddhav Thackeray, 59, will lead the alliance between three bitter rivals - Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress - that will stake claim to form Maharashtra’s next government, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Friday. The announcement came after a rare meeting that put, for the first time, top leaders of the three parties in the same room to seal the ground rules for the alliance.

The Shiv Sena, which had broken up with its ally of three decades Bharatiya Janata Party over its refusal to share the chief minister’s chair, will get to hold the top post in the government for the next five years.

“There is a consensus that leadership of the government will be with Uddhav Thackeray,” said Pawar, the first one to step out of the meeting. Uddhav Thackeray emerged next, son Aaditya by his side. But he sidestepped questions on leading the alliance government. Instead, the 59-year-old Shiv Sena chief stressed that the talks were positive, fruitful and in the right direction.

Watch | ‘Uddhav will lead alliance’: Pawar after NCP, Cong, Sena meet

 

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, asked about Sharad Pawar’s statement on a leadership role for Uddhav Thackeray, said: “I cannot second guess what he has said. Whatever he has said is on record”.

“The talks will continue tomorrow. The discussion between the Congress and the NCP concluded in New Delhi yesterday and reached an agreement on common position. The discussion with the Shiv Sena was held today and will continue tomorrow as well,” Chavan said.

The Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP have made it clear that it would be best if Uddhav Thackeray, the 59-year-old supremo of the Sena, assumes the chief minister’s chair. Sharad Pawar is learnt to have made the point again at his midnight meeting with Uddhav Thackeray when the Sena boss drove down to Sharad Pawar’s south Mumbai residence.

Thackeray, who has been reluctant to assume the top role, is learnt to have indicated that he wanted to consult his party leaders. The leadership question did come up when Uddhav Thackeray spoke to his party’s lawmakers earlier in the day. The Sena boss was their unanimous choice.

The alliance leaders will decide tomorrow when to seek an appointment with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to stake claim, Pawar told reporters.

Koshyari had cancelled his trip to attend a conference of governors in national capital Delhi earlier in the day after it appeared that the three parties had been able to look beyond their ideological differences for now and agree on a common agenda for the government.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had emerged as the single largest party in last month’s state elections, hasn’t commented on the coalition government so far. Union minister Nitin Gadkari did tell off the Sena, underscoring that its decision to part ways with the BJP would hurt the Hindutva cause. Gadkari also prophesied that the freshly-minted alliance wouldn’t last more than six or eight months.