Mumbai: The first-of-its-kind alliance among the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress in Maharashtra appeared to be taking shape after Sharad Pawar on Friday expressed confidence that the government formed by the three parties will last a full term.
Pawar’s NCP also said the Sena, which fell out with the BJP over its demands for the chief minister’s post, will lead the alliance.
A delegation of the three parties is set to meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Saturday, but the three parties maintained it was to seek immediate aid for rain-affected farmers and not about government formation.
The delegation will meet the Governor at Raj Bhavan around 4 pm, a Sena source said.
The three-party coalition, a new experiment in Maharashtra involving outfits with diverse ideologies, will be led by the Sena, said leaders in the Uddhav Thackeray-party and the
NCP, marking a progress in power-sharing negotiations. They have already prepared a draft common minimum programme (CMP).
The draft CMP focuses on farmers and measures to tackle unemployment, a senior Congress leader said in Mumbai.
“Inclusive development and justice to all sections of society are the criteria on which we will work if the CMP is approved by the leadership of all three parties,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Pawar said a Sena-NCP-Congress government will be formed and will complete a five-year term as he ruled out the possibility of mid-term polls in the state currently under President’s Rule.
“There is no possibility of mid-term polls. This government will be formed and it will complete five years. We will ensure this government runs for five years,” he said in Nagpur.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said Pawar and All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Sonia Gandhi will meet on November 17 to discuss the next course of action. “They will decide how to solve this problem. After that only the other actions will follow,” he said.
“Once they both sit and discuss, only then will the political strategy be prepared. That will be followed and implemented,” said Kharge.
In Mumbai, NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik on Friday said the chief minister’s post will go to the Sena.
“The chief minister will be from the Shiv Sena. It walked away from the ‘mahayuti’ (Sena-BJP alliance) on the issue of chief minister’s post. It is our responsibility to respect its sentiment,” he said.
At a meeting in Mumbai on Thursday, leaders of the Congress, NCP and Sena prepared the draft CMP, which will be forwarded for approval to top leaders of the three parties.
The BJP, meanwhile, claimed it would form the government, without disclosing how it would cobble up the majority figure of 145 in the 288-member house.
State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil at a press conference said, “The BJP is the single-largest party and, with the support of Independents, our tally reaches 119. With this, the BJP will form the government.”
Sena leader Sanjay Raut said Maharashtra’s next government will be led by his party. The Rajya Sabha MP was responding to questions on whether his party will share the chief minister’s post with the NCP and Congress.
“Whether it is a single-party government or an alliance, an agenda for governance is necessary. There are infrastructure projects to be taken forward, (and issues related to) drought, unseasonal rains (are to be tackled). Those coming with us are experienced administrators. We will benefit from their experience,” he said.
About the apparent contradiction in forming an alliance with the Congress, which has been the Sena’s political rival, Raut said leaders of the country’s oldest party had contributed to the freedom struggle as well as the state’s development.
Asked if the Sena will give up its demand for the Bharat Ratna for Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar and accept quota for Muslims, Raut evaded a direct reply and said, “We know the source of such speculation.”
The Sena reached out to the Congress-NCP combine for government formation after its demand for sharing the chief minister’s post and equal distribution of portfolios was rejected by the BJP, its pre-poll ally.
The BJP and the Sena, which fought the October 21 polls in alliance, secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member assembly.
The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.