As the talks among the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress over Government formation in Maharashtra remained “inconclusive” on Friday evening, NCP president Sharad Pawar said that there was “unanimity” among the three parties over Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s choice as the Chief Minister. Senior leaders of the Congress and the NCP said they have reached “conclusions” on many issues.
At the end of a two-hour meeting among the leaders of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress at the Nehru Centre here, there appeared to be loose ends regarding issues discussed and decisions taken in matters relating to the Government formation.
The leaders of the three parties will meet once again on Saturday to deliberate on the unfinished agenda and decide on when to stake claim for a three-party Government.
Though Pawar said there was consensus among the leaders of three parties that Uddhav would head the “Maha Vikas Agadhi” Government in the State, there was no formal confirmation from the Shiv Sena president.
Emerging out of the meeting first, Pawar said, “The leadership issue settled now. There is unanimity over Uddhav Thackeray’s choice as the Chief Minister. The discussion is going on other issues. After the leaders are through with the discussions, they will address a joint Press conference tomorrow and announce all the details relating to the Government formation.”
On his part, Uddhav did not say anything on Pawar’s announcement about the consensus having been reached on his name as the Chief Minister of the three-party Government.
Later, Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut was quoted by a leading Marathi channel as saying that upon the insistence by the leaders of the two alliance partners, Uddhav has agreed to accept the CM post.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who was to leave for Delhi, has cancelled his trip, anticipating a meeting with the leaders of the three parties during the weekend.
NCP’s national spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “Both the NCP and Congress have obtained signatures of their respective MLAs. We can go with the Shiv Sena leaders any time to the Governor and give our letters of support to the Maha Vikas Agadhi Government.”
Earlier, Uddhav, however, said that his party, and the NCP-Congress alliance had agreed on many things. “We were meeting for the first time like this. We have reached on a consensus on many things. We do not want to leave anything undecided. The discussions are still going on.. We will not go before the people till we decide on everything”.
However, Shiv Sena’s Legislature Party leader Eknath Shinde, who is also a chief ministerial aspirant, said that there was no discussion on the chief minister’s choice. He said that the discussions were going on many issues, including the Speaker’s post.
Apart from Uddhav, Pawar and Chavan, prominent among the leaders who were present at the tripartite meeting were Eknath Shinde, Aditya Thackeray, Subhash Desai, Sanjay Raut (all from the Shiv Sena), Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, K C Venugopal, Avinash Pande, Balasaheb Thorat, Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), Praful Patel, Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar ( all from the NCP).
At the meeting, the leaders of the three parties formalised the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and discussed the sharing of ministries in details. As per the agreement reached at the meeting, the Shiv Sena will get 16 ministerial berths, NCP 14 and Congress 12.
As per the agreement reached among the three parties, the Shiv Sena will get the chairmanships of 27 state-run boards, while the NCP and Congress will get the chairmanships of 25 state-run boards each.
Given that the Sena would get the chief minister’s post for full five years, there will in all likelihood be two deputy chief ministers. The details on what transpired about the choice of deputy chief ministers was not immediately known.
Sources said that though the leaders from the three parties discussed the sharing of portfolios among them, they had not arrived at consensus on sharing of important portfolios like Home, Urban Development, Revenue, Finance, Co-operation and PWD.
At Saturday’s meeting, the leaders of three parties will decide on sharing of the important ministries among them.
According to the sources, the Assembly Speaker’s post has become a major bone of contention between the Congress and NCP. Earlier, it was speculated that the Congress would get the post and that former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was the number one choice for the post. However, at Friday’s meeting, the NCP is understood to have staked claim for the Speaker’s post.
Earlier, the Shiv Sena Legislature Party meeting held at the Thackerays’ residence “Matoshri” earlier in the morning, newly elected Sena MLAs rooted for the Sena President Uddhav Thackeray becoming the Chief Minister in the three-party front Government.
After a majority of the MLAs spoke in favour of Uddhav heading the new government in the state, the Sena president himself signalled them to stop and said: “I have promised late Balasaheb that I will one day install a Shiv Sainik as the chief minister of Maharashtra. I will fulfil my promise. Be assured that the next chief minister will be from the Shiv Sena”.
During the course of his address, Uddhav blamed the BJP for the current political situation in the state. “Had the BJP not conducted itself in a manner as it did, we would not have witnessed the kind of the situation we are witnessing today. The BJP is responsible for the current political situation in the state. For the last few days, we have been holding talks with the NCP and Congress. We are in the final stages of government formation. Today, we expect to a decision in the matter,” Uddhav told his party MLAs.
After the 75 minute meeting, all the Sena MLAs were driven to Hotel Lalit where they will all be lodged till the three parties complete government formation formalities.
On its part, the Congress also held its Legislature Party meeting earlier in the afternoon. However, no CLP leader was elected at the meeting. At the meeting, the Congress obtained the signatures of its newly elected MLAs which the party would submit to the Governor along with its letter of support to the Shiv Sena-led government in the state.
Saturday, 23 November 2019 | TN RAGHUNATHA | Mumbai
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