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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

Sharad Pawar-Sonia Gandhi meet on fate of alliance with Sena today

Although Pawar said on Friday that the three-party government will be formed and will last for five years, Congress leaders said the final decision is yet to be taken.

mumbai Updated: Nov 18, 2019 06:39 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
NCP president Sharad Pawar after meeting with core members of NCP at his residence Motibaug in Shivajinagar in Pune on Sunday.
NCP president Sharad Pawar after meeting with core members of NCP at his residence Motibaug in Shivajinagar in Pune on Sunday.(Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)
         

Monday’s meeting between Congress’s interim president Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar will be crucial for all three parties coming together to form a Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra.

Although Pawar said on Friday that the three-party government will be formed and will last for five years, Congress leaders said the final decision is yet to be taken. Cancellation of scheduled visits of state leaders from Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP to Raj Bhavan on Saturday and a meeting between Pawar and Gandhi on Sunday added to the uncertainty. NCP later clarified the Sunday meeting was never scheduled.

According to leaders, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is still apprehensive over some issues and policies of the right-wing Shiv Sena. She was reportedly unhappy with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s announcement of visiting Ayodhya in the wake of the recent verdict related to disputed land for Ram Mandir.

“Gandhi has also sought a solid assurance from the Sena over the ‘secular’ face of the government expected to be formed by the three parties,” said a senior Congress leader.

The leader said Gandhi’s appointment of senior leaders such as Ahmed Patel, KC Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge for talks with Pawar in Mumbai was an indication of the party’s willingness to join the government.

The Congress and NCP have finalised a common minimum programme. The draft chalked out by a coordination committee comprising senior leaders from the three parties has been sent to their heads. The state leaders have also given a final touch to the power-sharing between them and expect a nod after the chiefs of the three parties discuss it.

Pawar held a meeting of his core committee leaders in Pune and discussed the CMP and power-sharing. Pawar has reportedly told his leaders that the power sharing will first be finalised with the Congress before discussing it with the Sena. After the meeting between Pawar and Gandhi, national leaders of Congress will discuss the formula of power sharing with the key leaders from NCP. The leaders from the two parties are then expected to meet the Sena leaders. “Pawarsaheb is meeting Soniaji in Delhi on Monday. The new government in Maharashtra is the need of the hour and the decision will soon be taken. After the meeting between the chief of the two parties, the leaders will meet on Tuesday,” said NCP spokesperson and Mumbai unit chief Nawab Malik.

The widening rift in the three-decade-old ties of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Sena has, however, given hope to the alliance. The Sena MPs will sit on opposition benches in Parliament during the winter session beginning Monday.

In Maharashtra, the showdown between the leaders of the BJP and Shiv Sena continued and became visible during an event organised to observe the death anniversary of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park.