Sonia Gandhi calls Sharad Pawar, sends top team to seal Maharashtra deal
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday picked up the phone to speak with Nationalist Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar and give a potential alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra a hard push, people familiar with the development said. Gandhi has also deputed a team of top party leaders led by Ahmed Patel to Maharashtra to iron out the wrinkles in the deal to have a Shiv Sena-led government in the state.
Gandhi’s phone call triggered one more. Sharad Pawar, who was learnt to have favoured a “wait it out” approach, is learnt to have spoken to Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray soon after to fast track the finer details of the pact. The Congress effort to push the attempt at forming the government in Maharashtra came following worries that their refusal to give a letter of support yesterday could upset the Sena into calling off the pact.
One senior leader told Hindustan Times that there had been a bit of a role reversal. After being wary of the messaging that the tie-up would send to its support base in and outside Maharashtra, Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday morning had asked Pawar to “act fast” so that the BJP could be firmly kept out of play in the state.
Also Watch | Maharashtra Governor invites NCP; Sonia, Pawar continue talks on Sena tie-up
Till late last evening, Gandhi had refused to give in to state leaders who wanted the Congress to support the Sena government even though Uddhav Thackeray had called her up and asked for her party’s support support.
A senior NCP leader told HT that the coalition discussions were on track but much would depend on the agreement over division of ministries. “It should not be that we should end up fighting over ministries so Pawar saheb wants it all to be pre-decided,” said the leader.
Congress veterans Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge KC Venugopal will land at Sharad Pawar’s door by 3 pm to work out these modalities.
Knowing that the Sena and BJP fell out over division of portfolios, this will not be an easy task.