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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Several Congress MLAs in favour of Sena-led government in Maharashtra

The legislators, including several young MLAs, plan to write to the party leadership soon. In a first, senior Congress leaders, too, are now saying that even the people of the state want to keep the BJP out of power.

mumbai Updated: Nov 07, 2019 07:54 IST
Faisal Malik and Surendra P Gangan
Faisal Malik and Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A poster with a picture of Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray outside Matoshree (Thackeray residence), in Mumbai.
A poster with a picture of Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray outside Matoshree (Thackeray residence), in Mumbai.(ANI Photo )
         

After the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) attempts to explore possibilities of forming a non-BJP government, a group of Congress MLAs is now in favour of supporting a Sena-led government directly or indirectly.

The legislators, including several young MLAs, plan to write to the party leadership soon. In a first, senior Congress leaders, too, are now saying that even the people of the state want to keep the BJP out of power. This is despite the central leadership not giving a go-ahead to join hands with the Shiv Sena and NCP to form a government. “Young leaders like Vishwajeet Kadam, Satej Patil and Amit Deshmukh are of the opinion that the alternative option being tapped by NCP chief Sharad Pawar should be looked into. Party’s working president Yashomati Thakur met Pawar on Wednesday and has expressed the sentiments of the section of the party legislators. After the group within the party became vocal, senior party leaders had a meeting to discuss the options,” said a senior party leader.

Leader of opposition in the legislative Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar said most party leaders are of the opinion that the BJP should be kept out of the power. “It is true that not only party leaders, but even people of the state want the BJP to be kept out of power. The saffron parties could not form the government owing to the trust deficit between them. Unless the Shiv Sena does not walk out of the alliance, there is no possibility of the solution to the stalemate,” said one of the MLAs from the group. “The final decision will be taken by our high command and it will be acceptable to all of us,” Thakur said.

However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday ruled out any possibility of the NCP-Congress combine arriving at an arrangement with the Shiv Sena to form the government. He made the statement an hour after his meeting with Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut. Both the leaders had a short meeting at Pawar’s residence in south Mumbai. “This alliance (the Shiv Sena-BJP) has been in existence for 25 years. How can they separate now…,” he said at a press conference at YB Chavan Centre. “There is only one option, which is the BJP and Shiv Sena should form the government. To avoid President’s rule, there is no other option.”

Pawar also said they will watch how things pan out in the next three days. “We were in a pre-poll alliance with Congress and we will take a decision together,” he said. The 78-year-old veteran also predicted that the two saffron parties will come together to form the government “today, tomorrow or the day after”. “The mandate of people for the NCP and Congress has been to act as a strong opposition. We are capable of handling this responsibility,” he said. Turning to the two squabbling allies, he asked them to form the government quickly and “give us the opportunity to act as a responsible opposition”.

NCP insiders maintained they are looking for a deal with the Sena, but are treading cautiously as they don’t want to be embarrassed in case the Sena leadership decides not to walk out of the NDA. “We don’t want to look power hungry. We will not make any move on our own,” said a NCP functionary. “We want the BJP to stake the claim which they will on Thursday. If the Sena decides to be with us, we will ensure Fadnavis government doesn’t survive the confidence motion.”

During the meeting with NCP chief on Monday in New Delhi, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi had expressed her reservation over supporting the Shiv Sena. The Congress president was apprehensive about inviting the wrath of Muslims and Dalit voters, besides ending up playing a secondary role to the Sena and NCP. The Congress won 44 seats, while the Shiv Sena and NCP have 58 and 56 MLAs.

Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Hussain Dalwai met Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday. The MP has already written to Sonia Gandhi, requesting her to consider backing the Sena to form the government. By involving Dalwai, the state unit wants to send out a message that Muslims and Dalits may approve of the party’s decision, if the BJP is kept at bay.

“The Sena can either pull out of the National Democratic Alliance and the Centre or fail the BJP during the floor test. The Congress-NCP will back the Sena once it passes the acid test,” said a senior Congress leader.