Unanimity on ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ Govt; Parties to work out power-sharing formula
After marathon meetings between the top leaders of the Congress and the NCP that saw them arrive at “complete unanimity” on all issues relating to Government formation in Maharashtra, the political scene will shift to Mumbai, where the senior leaders of the two parties will meet Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Friday evening to hammer out a power-sharing deal for the “Maha Vikas Aghadi” Government in the State.
“Maharashtra will get a Government tomorrow. At the meeting scheduled, the three parties will put a stamp on the new Government. We (the three parties) may meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari jointly on Saturday and stake claim to form a Government in Maharashtra,” a confidant Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said in New Delhi on Thursday.
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, Uddhav — accompanied by his MLA-son Aditya and Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut — met NCP president Sharad Pawar at the latter’s “Silver Oak” residence in south Mumbai late on Thursday night. At the meeting, Pawar is understood to have briefed Uddhav on what transpired at the meetings that the NCP and Congress leaders held during the last two days. They also reportedly discussed various issues relating to the Government formation.
Apart from Pawar, his nephew and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and NCP MP Supriya Sule were present. What surprised many in the State political circles as to what was the urgency that prompted Uddhav to meet Pawar, immediately after the latter arrived from New Delhi. Raut had earlier in the afternoon confirmed in the national Capital that both he and Congress-NCP leaders had spoken to Uddhav over telephone and spoken to him on certain issues relating to the Government formation.
After the top leaders of the Congress and the NCP formalised the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and worked out modalities for the Government formation, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Thursday granted in-principle approval to the party to form a new Government in Maharashtra along with its pre-poll partner, NCP, and the Shiv Sena.
After the CWC meeting, which was chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi, sources said that the Congress and the NCP would work out finer details of the Government formation in Maharashtra during their meeting with the Sena president on Friday.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan informed the media after a meeting that there was a “complete unanimity” on all issues and when the alliance partners, which would include the Sena, announce their CMP, then the power-sharing formula would be disclosed.
The major engagement on Friday will be a crucial meeting to be held in the evening between the Congress-NCP leaders with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and a few of his senior party colleagues. Apart from senior Congress leaders, NCP president Sharad Pawar is also expected to remain present at this meeting.
On their part, senior Congress and NCP leaders have kept Uddhav in the loop on what transpired at the meeting between the senior Congress and NCP leaders at the meeting on Wednesday.
Given the unanimity between the Congress and the NCP on all issues relating to the Government formation and the fact that the Shiv Sena is not in mood to impose any major conditions, it is quite likely that the three parties will hammer out a power-sharing pact for the “Maha Vikas Aghadi” Government in Maharashtra.
There will be two components for the power-sharing formula that will be discussed at Friday’s meeting. The first component will be formalisation of the CMP which will be an easy task for all the three parties. The second component will be the power-sharing arrangement among the three.
As per the power-sharing arrangement devised by the Congress and the NCP at the national Capital, the Shiv Sena (with 56 MLAs) and the NCP (54 MLAs) will get 15 ministries each, while the Congress (44 MLAs) will get 12 ministries in accordance with an approximate ratio of 4 MLAs: one Ministry.
Both the NCP and the Congress have agreed to give the Chief Minister’s post to the Shiv Sena. Though there has been a speculation that the NCP has been insisting on the Chief Minister’s post being rotated equally between it and the Shiv Sena, the two parties have not yet broached the issue with the Shiv Sena.
Given the mood prevailing in both the Congress and the NCP, they would not be averse to giving the Chief Minister’s post for full five year period. But, the two parties, especially the NCP, will demand their pound of flesh in terms of important ministries for forgoing the Chief Minister’s post on a rotational basis.
If the Chief Minister’s post goes to the Shiv Sena for full five years’ period, then there will be two Deputy Chief Ministers — one each from the NCP and the Congress. There will be discussion on the sharing of the major Ministries like Home, Urban Development, PWD, Revenue, Co-operation and Finance.
The crucial Assembly Speaker’s post will go to the Congress in all likelihood. Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan is being discussed as the next Speaker. The second choice will be another former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
Before the Friday meeting with the Congress-NCP leaders, Uddhav will brief his party MLAs about the ongoing talks with the Congress and NCP leaders during the past few days. All the Sena MLAs have been asked to come fully prepared with their identity cards, the election certificates issued by their respective poll returning officers and other relevant documents which may be required in the coming days.
It remains to be seen if Uddhav, who is tipped to the chief ministerial candidate of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, will be elected as the leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party in place of Eknath Shinde, who had earlier been elected as the Sena’s Legislature party leader.
Informed sources in the Congress and the NCP said the two parties have been insisting, informally though, on Uddhav being the Chief Minister instead of Eknath Shinde.
“We do not want the Government to be remote-controlled from outside. It would be easier to run the Government – both in terms of credible face and decision-making process if Uddhav Thackeray becomes the Chief Minister,” a senior NCP leader said.
On the other side, the Congress and NCP leaders will hold talks with their pre-poll alliance partners — the Peasants Workers Party (PWP), Samajwadi Party, Swabhimani Paksh, CPI(M) — in Mumbai on Friday morning, ahead of their meeting with the Shiv Sena president.
At 4 pm, the Congress has called a meeting of its newly-elected MLAs for electing their Legislature Party leader. It remains to be seen as to who will be the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader. The choice is between current State Congress president Balasaheb Thorat and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. Given that he is being talked as the next Speaker of the State Assembly, it remains to be seen if Prithviraj Chavan also be in the fray for the CLP leader’s election.
The national Capital this week saw marathon meetings between the top leaders of the Congress and the NCP to explore the possibility of forging an alliance with the Shiv Sena, a party whose ideology is poles apart from the duo. Top Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh and Mallikarjun Kharge, its State leaders Prithviraj Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat and Naseem Khan, and NCP leaders Praful Patel, Supriya Sule, Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil and Nawab Malik were part of the meeting.
“The NCP and the Congress have completed discussions on all issues. There is complete unanimity on all issues. Decision will be taken on Friday on what the architecture of the alliance will be. The final decision will be announced in Mumbai,” Chavan said.
He further said that only after all the issues are discussed and cleared by the three parties, the alliance will move towards staking claim to form the Government.
When asked whether the Chief Minister’s post will be rotational and what will be the seat sharing formula, Chavan said, “All discussions in public domain is purely speculative”.
On Wednesday, the Congress-NCP alliance gave its most categorical indication about joining hands with arch rival Shiv Sena, with Prithviraj Chavan expressing confidence of forming a “stable” Government soon in the State after a marathon meeting of senior leaders of the two parties here.
Raut, who has emerged as the key leader to hold discussions with NCP-Congress combine, said to further discuss the modalities of Government formation, another round of meeting among the three parties will be held in Mumbai. He also told reporters that there are no plans of any meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray this week.
The Shiv Sena still remains tight-lipped on who will be the Chief Minister from it. “You will come to know about it very soon. But all Shiv Sainiks and people of the State want Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister,” Raut said. On NCP’s demand that the Chief Minister’s post has to be on rotational basis, Raut said he “did not” have any information on that.
NCP sources said the Chief Minister’s post is most likely to be on a rotational basis, with the first half to be given to the Shiv Sena and the latter to the NCP. The Congress is likely to have the Deputy Chief Minister’s post for the full five-year term, they said.
Responding to a question on Congress’s concern that the Shiv Sena has to mellow down its hardline stance, Raut said the country and its Constitution is based on secularism. “When we accept that then you don’t distinguish between farmers, unemployed. Chhatrapati Shivaji took care of every religion and caste. So Maharashtra does not have to import new ideas,” he said.
He also said Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray had publicly advocated that oath swearing on religious books in courts should be stopped and replaced by the Constitution. “So don’t teach us the meaning of the world secular,” Raut said.
Friday, 22 November 2019 | PNS | New Delhi/Mumbai