Sonia Gandhi meets senior party leaders to discuss Maharashtra political situation


New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi met senior leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, AK Antony and KC Venugopal on Tuesday to discuss the political situation in Maharashtra and the way forward for the party on government formation, sources said.

Senior leaders of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are expected to meet on Wednesday to firm up a stand and hammer out the issues on forming government in the western state with the Shiv Sena.

Keeping his cards close to his chest, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Monday that he had only discussed the political situation in Maharashtra with Gandhi and the two parties will hold talks with their other allies before taking a decision on government formation in the state.

Pawar, whose meeting with Sonia Gandhi was being billed as a major step towards a tie-up with the Shiv Sena for government formation in the state, had said that if the NCP-Congress had to take a view on government formation, they had to first discuss it between themselves.

Addressing a press conference after his meeting with Gandhi here on Monday that lasted for about 50 minutes, the Maratha strongman also said there was no discussion on a common minimum programme (CMP) during the talks.

However, sources have said that the Congress and the NCP have been having detailed discussions on the CMP and the way forward for a possible tie-up with the Sena.

Maharashtra was placed under the President’s rule on November 12 after no party or alliance staked claim to form government in the state. A day after the President’s rule was imposed, the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP leaders held hectic parleys to work out a CMP for government formation.

At a joint press conference in Mumbai last week with the Congress leaders deputed by Gandhi to hold talks with him, Pawar had said the two parties would discuss and come up with a consensus on what should be the policies and programmes if the Sena was to be supported.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel had insisted that no final decision could be taken without the formulation of a CMP by the three parties.

In the October 21 Maharashtra polls, the BJP-Sena alliance had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress and the NCP, the pre-poll allies, had won 44 and 54 seats respectively.


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