President’s rule in Maharashtra: Congress drives hard bargain, doesn’t want Uddhav, son as CM

Congress drives hard bargain, doesn’t want Uddhav, son as CM

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI:  The imposition of President’s rule in Maharashtra may have scuppered any immediate possibility of a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in the state but the three parties will now begin consultations in order to put in place a non-BJP government.

After days of high political drama, President’s rule was imposed in Maharashtra on Tuesday and its Assembly put in suspended animation after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyiari sent a report to the Centre that it was “impossible” to form a stable government in the state. According to the report, Koshyiari “made all attempts to explore the possibility” of government formation but “unfortunately” he failed.

Even the NCP, which was given time till 8.30 pm on Tuesday, failed to muster enough support and called the Governor in the morning for an extension but that was declined. The Congress and the NCP termed the President’s rule as a mockery of the Constitution but made it clear that they would try to chart out ways to form an alliance government with the Sena.

Whether that government will be led by the Sena or by the Congress- NCP is as yet unclear but various formulas are believed to have been discussed during a meeting between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and KC Venugopal.

Sources said while the NCP proposed equal distribution of posts and responsibilities, the Congress wanted to evolve a comprehensive formula for sharing of power before moving ahead.

The Congress is understood to have put forth five conditions while proposing one ministerial berth for every four MLAs.

According to this formula, the Congress would get 11 ministerial berths, the Sena 14 and the NCP 13. Five other posts would go to smaller allies.

The Congress also demanded a common minimum programme, a coordination committee, a comprehensive formula on how to share power in local bodies, including municipalities and municipal corporations, and a distribution of state-owned corporations.

The sources said the party was opposed to the idea of anyone from the Thackeray family as the Chief Minister.

The NCP, on the other hand, proposed equal distribution of all the posts and responsibilities. Though party sources didn’t divulge much, the equal distribution would mean rotational Chief Ministers and Deputy Chief Ministers.

While the Sena didn’t react to the proposal, it is unlikely to accept the NCP proposal as it would have to compromise on the demand for the CM’s post, the main reason why it broke away from the BJP. According to the NCP’s formula, it would get the chief ministership only for 20 months or less.

But even though various permutations and combinations are being explored, the Congress and the NCP, particularly the former, continue to have reservations over doing business with the Sena, a hardcore Hindutva party. This seemed to be reflected in the joint statement by the Congress-NCP

Governor has given us six months, says Uddhav:

The Sena officially contacted the alliance on Monday. A broad discussion is needed on all aspects before making any decision on the issue.

Any policy on further action on this shall be decided only after both the parties reach at a consensus,” the statement said.

“No decision on an alliance with the Shiv Sena shall be made unless we have clarity on how to run the government,” Congress leader Ahmed Patel said.

According to Congress sources, the party would consider supporting or joining a Sena government
only after there was an agreement on a common minimum programme that addresses the apprehensions of the Congress leadership.

“The party MLAs want to join the Shiv Sena-NCP alliance government as they feel there is no point supporting the alliance from outside. Besides a CMP, there has to be an agreement on ministerial berths, but that can be worked out later,” a Congress MLA said.

Addressing the media, Uddhav said just like the Congress and the NCP want clarity on how the alliance should be knit together, the Sena too needed assurances. “We had asked the Governor for 48 hours but he is too generous and he has given us six months,” he said.

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