As the third-largest party NCP mulls over government formation in Maharashtra, Congress leader Manikrao Thakre on Tuesday has revealed that senior Congress leaders will not be coming to Mumbai to meet NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. Thakre added that all the Congress leaders like Maharashtra general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge, National General Secretary KC Venugopal and Ahmed Patel will talk to Pawar on the phone. Furthermore, state Congress leaders are set to meet NCP leaders at 4 PM, according to sources.
Sources report that the Congress High Command will discuss the future course and inform Pawar about Congress' decision over the phone. This development comes after the governor on Monday, invited NCP to show a willingness to form the government by 8:30 PM on Tuesday. Shiv Sena had failed to cobble up a coalition with the NCP-Congress' support and was denied an extension from the Governor.
As Maharashtra entered its 18th day of having no government on Monday, hectic parleys were held between Congress interim-chief Sonia Gandhi, NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena Supremo Uddhav Thackeray. Senior Congress leaders were flown from Jaipur to Delhi to take a final call on Congress-NCP extending support to Shiv Sena. While Uddhav Thackeray met Pawar and called up Sonia Gandhi multiple times, Congress did not reach a decision by 7:30 PM which was the deadline for Shiv Sena to stake claim. Meanwhile, BJP held a core committee meeting at Fadnavis' residence to prevent defections and to decide the future course. Sena's sole Union Minister Arvind Sawant too resigned from the Modi cabinet in protest.
Blaming the Sena for fracturing the Mahayuti alliance, BJP announced that it would not form the next government in the state on Sunday, after meeting the governor. Sena, being the second-largest part was then invited to form the government - proving its ability by Monday evening- 7:30 PM. Both NCP and Congress are now in a huddle, talking with their MLAs discussing govt formation. The major tiff between the two ideologically similar parties BJP and Shiv Sena is for the 50-50 formula and sharing the CM post for 2.5 years each. BJP has refused to both, with the BJP willing to give Shiv Sena 13 cabinet portfolios and keeping 26 portfolios for itself.
The saffron alliance swept Maharashtra on October 24, winning a combined tally of 161 (BJP- 105, Sena -56), but is yet to put its majority to use. Meanwhile, the 'Maha- Agadhi' alliance (NCP-54, Congress-44) bagged 98 seats in total. The halfway mark is 145.