How Will Sanjay Raut Get 175 MLAs, Asks Sharad Pawar, Says Keen to See Amit Shah’s ‘Skills’ in Maharashtra

Mumbai: NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday snubbed Sanjay Raut for his “confidence” that the Shiv Sena had the support of 175 MLAs, saying he too wanted to see how the Uddhav Thackeray-led party cobbled together the numbers.

Addressing the press after his second meeting with Raut, Pawar asked the BJP and Sena to form the government in Maharashtra at the earliest, and asserted that the NCP and Congress will work as a “responsible opposition”.

The NCP leader also ruled out joining the Sena in government with the outside support of the Congress. “Where is the question?” he asked, saying the BJP and Shiv Sena have been in alliance for 25 years, and they “will come together sooner or later”.

“If we had the numbers, we wouldn’t have waited for anyone. The Congress and NCP didn’t cross the 100 mark…we will work as a responsible opposition,” Pawar said.

Noting that the BJP and Shiv Sena have got the mandate to rule, he said, “They should form the government at the earliest and not allow the state to slip in a constitutional crisis. They should allow us to fulfill the mandate assigned to us by people.”

Speaking about BJP chief Amit Shah, Pawar said: “Shah is known for his skills to form the government in states where the BJP doesn’t always have numbers. I’m keen to see his skills in Maharashtra.”

On his discussion with Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the issue of supporting Shiv Sena, he said, “The Congress and NCP fought the election in alliance. We want all decisions about the political situation to be taken by consensus. I am not aware of the decision of the Congress.”

Pawar also dismissed speculations that he may return as the state’s chief minister. “I have been the chief minister four times and have no interest again,” he said.

Asked about senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s meeting with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi on Wednesday, Pawar said, “It must be about some road work.”

Pawar also said that Raut met him in Mumbai on Wednesday to discuss issues to be jointly raised in the Rajya Sabha during Parliament session beginning on November 18.

Meanwhile, responding to Pawar’s statement asking the BJP and Shiv Sena to form government at the earliest, Raut said, “He is right. The party with 105 MLAs should form the government.”

The NCP on Tuesday said a political alternative can be worked out in the state if the Shiv Sena declared that it had snapped ties with the BJP. Sources in the NCP said their party wants Arvind Sawant, the lone Shiv Sena minister in the Union government, to resign before going ahead further with the Sena.

There has been no headway in government formation after results of the state polls were declared on October 24. The term of the existing state Assembly expires on November 9.

The BJP, which won 105 seats, and the Shiv Sena, which bagged 56 seats, are locked in a bitter tussle over sharing of the chief minister’s post and ministerial portfolios in new government, even 13 days after the Assembly poll verdict handed them enough seats to cobble up a coalition government. They won 161 seats together in the 288-member House, much above the halfway mark of 145. Besides, the opposition NCP won 54 seats while the Congress got 44 seats.

The Sena had called off a meeting to hold formal talks with the BJP on October 29 after the chief minister rejected Thackeray’s claims that a formula had been “agreed upon” on “equal sharing of power” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls held in April-May this year.

High-profile meetings in New Delhi on Monday between Pawar and Sonia Gandhi, and the one between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP chief Amit Shah failed to give any indication of breaking the logjam over government formation. Raut reiterated that the state’s next chief minister will be from his party.

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