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After Governor’s invite, Shiv Sena & NCP discuss ministries

MUMBAI: In fast-moving developments, NCP on Sunday initiated talks with Shiv Sena to form a government in Maharashtra.

According to sources, NCP and Sena are likely to have an arrangement where each of the two parties could either share the chief minister’s post for 2.5 years. Alternatively, a Sena member may become the CM but NCP will have the deputy chief minster’s post and a lion’s share of portfolios such as home and agriculture. The Congress if it joins such an arrangement may have the speaker’s post and other portfolios.

The development took place after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited Sena to form the government. The Sena apparently has been given time till 7.30 pm on Monday to come up with the numbers. However, there was no confirmation on this from the governor’s office. Sources said NCP and Sena have already discussed the matter. But publicly NCP wants Sena to quit the BJPled NDA government at the Centre. “BJP is still in an alliance with Sena. It has a minister (Arvind Sawant is Union minister of heavy Industries). It should first take a stand on that,” said NCP leader Nawab Malik.

Sena and BJP have been allies for over 30 years and are in power in a number of municipal corporations such as in Mumbai, Thane and other civic bodies. Meanwhile, NCP and Congress will also ask Sena to agree to common minimum programme before the swearing-in to remove contentious issues that can create a discord later.

NCP had called for a meeting of its MLAs on Tuesday. Malik said the party will decide its stand then. However, the party may now hold it on Monday in the light of governor’s invite to Sena. Sena has claimed it has the support of 170 MLAs to form the government.

Contrary to reports of Sena MLAs backing the party, they seem to have been quite restless over the recent developments. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has held two meetings over two days with MLAs in order to boost their morale. On Sunday afternoon, Uddhav accompanied by his wife Rashmi visited the MLAs holed up at Malad Hotel Retreat. He assured them that a Sena government will be formed soon. “We have still not broken our alliance with BJP… Sena will form our government. We will no longer be the ceremonial horse in the procession this time. Our party member will be the chief minister,” said Sena chief.

Congress woes

Meanwhile, Congress MLAs who are in Jaipur have told the brass that the party may be wiped out in the state if it doesn’t become part of the Sena-led government in the state.

The message has been passed on to leaders such as Ahmed Patel and Mallikarjun Kharge, who have been in talks with the MLAs. Congress leaders have even warned that there might even be a rebellion in the state unit if the Congress leadership does not take ‘a conducive stand’. Senior leaders such as state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and Prithviraj Chavan are all engaged in talks with Kharge and Patel.

Source: Economic Times