New Maharashtra allies in last lap of talks to form next government
Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress are expected to announce their power-sharing pact and may also stake claim to form the government, if Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari is in Mumbai over the weekend.Updated: Nov 22, 2019 06:42 IST
The political uncertainty, which engulfed Maharashtra for close to a month after the Assembly election results were announced, may finally end this weekend, with Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) likely to formalise their alliance. The alliance, firmed up after several rounds of meetings between Congress and NCP leaders in New Delhi over the past couple of days, is set to be sealed at a meeting also involving Sena in Mumbai on Friday.
The parties are also expected to announce their power-sharing pact and may also stake claim to form the government, if Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari is in Mumbai over the weekend. Raj Bhavan officials, who did not wish to be named, said Koshyari could be in New Delhi on November 23 and 24 for a conference, but his schedule was not finalised till late on Thursday.
However, leaders from all three parties expect the new government to be in place by next week.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said talks are in the final stages. “On Friday, senior leaders, including Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray, will meet in Mumbai to give the final shape to everything. We do not think there is any hurdle now [to stake claim]. The pace at which we are progressing, there is no stopping us,” said Raut, who has been the face of his party over the past few weeks and is also expected to be a part of the meeting.
Earlier in the day, Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s top decision-making body led by interim president Sonia Gandhi, gave its nod to join the Sena-led government in Maharashtra. Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan and NCP’s Mumbai unit chief Nawab Malik briefed the media after the meeting between two parties on Thursday. “We are on the same page as far as the architecture of the new government is concerned. We will discuss the structure with Shiv Sena on Friday in Mumbai, followed by an official announcement,” Chavan said.
Congress and NCP leaders also spoke to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray over the phone during their joint meetings to discuss contentious issues related to the power sharing, according to leaders present at the meeting. Meanwhile, Thackeray along with party MLA and son Aaditya and Raut visited Pawar’s Mumbai residence, Silver Oak, on Thursday night to discuss the power-sharing and other modalities of government formation.
According to Congress and NCP leaders, who did not wish to be named, the three parties have arrived at a consensus over Sena holding the chief minister’s post for the full five-year term, with two deputy chief ministers each from NCP and Congress. The Speaker of Assembly is likely to be from Congress and the Chairman in the Legislative Council from NCP. Shiv Sena will hold the deputy speaker and deputy chairman posts in the two Houses of Legislature.
NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said their party has not demanded equal sharing of CM’s post. “The CM will be from Shiv Sena, while other details will be revealed tomorrow [Friday],” he said.
With Sena likely to get chief ministership for five years, the party has agreed to give the home department to NCP and revenue department to Congress, while the finance minister will be from Sena, said a leader, on condition of anonymity, adding that with the three parties getting one department each from the first pool of top-most departments, the urban development, public works and water resources ministries and three other departments from the second pool will be equally divided between the parties.
On the question of who occupies the chief minister’s post, while Congress and NCP leaders have been insisting on Thackeray, the Sena chief himself is believed to be not too keen on taking up the top job. Senior Sena leaders Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai could be front runners for the post if Thackeray decided not to become the chief minister. Ajit Pawar from NCP and Balasaheb Thorat from Congress are the frontrunners for the deputy chief minister’s post.