M A I N   N E W S

Pawar reminds Sonia of 1999 formula
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
Buoyed by the numbers in his favour, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar today staked claim for chief ministership of Maharashtra on the basis of the power-sharing formula worked out by the two parties five years ago.

“We are ready to show our figures. Our position is good,” Mr Pawar told newspersons after his meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

In 1999, the two alliance partners had agreed upon having a Congress-nominated Chief Minister, primarily on the basis of fact that the party had a larger number of MLAs in the 288-member Assembly than the NCP.

This time round, however, the position has reversed with the Congress winning 69 seats, two less than the 71 seats wrested by the NCP.

“Since the NCP has emerged as the largest party among the coalition partners, the Chief Minister will be from the party”, Mr Pawar said.

Exuding confidence that the issue of chief ministership will be sorted out shortly without ruffling too many feathers, Mr Pawar said NCP representative Praful Patel and Congress leader Ahmed Patel would hold a meeting in Mumbai to discuss the matter.

Immediately after the meeting with Mr Pawar, which lasted for about 30 minutes, the Congress President is learnt to have had a lengthy meeting with Mr Patel.

Mr Pawar said the NCP was prepared to “discuss any methodology” to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution and both the parties would exchange lists of MLAs supporting their respective parties.

This was in obvious response to the Congress claim about the three seats won by the CPM out of the five seats allotted to it in a pre-election seat-sharing agreement.

“We can also show our supporters. There are nine to 10 Independents who back us”, he said.

“We will decide on the issue peacefully and in a friendly atmosphere. During the meeting with Mrs Gandhi, I told her that the 1999 formula would be the basis for deciding the chief ministership. Having agreed to this formula, it is now for the two parties to meet and ascertain the number of MLAs they have”, Mr Pawar said.

He said the issue would be sorted out within two or four days. While it had taken 10 days for both parties to arrive a mutually agreeable solution in 1999, this time it will take a much shorter time, he said.

Apart from the issue of chief ministership, the 1999 formula has also drawn out the broad contours for allocation of important portfolios between the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister.

AICC general secretary Ambika Soni said it may take about three days for the issue to be settled.

“So many aspects have to be taken into consideration in a coalition setup. The issue will be resolved amicably. But it will take at least three days”, she said.

Hectic confabulations are under way within both parties, ostensibly to win the support of MLAs who have won on Independent ticket.

Even as the Congress has sought the direct support of the three CPM MLAs, the NCP has also initiated discussions with the Left party.

NCP leader D.P. Tripathi today met CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury at the CPM headquarters here. Mr Tripathi has claimed that the NCP will shortly have a list of 80 MLAs (including its own 71).

Mr Yechury, however, was tight-lipped on what transpired at the meeting, and said that the Left party wanted a secular government to be in place in Maharashtra without much delay.

Both the Congress and the NCP will hold their Legislature Party meetings tomorrow in Mumbai.

Efforts to end the deadlock over the issue of chief ministership gained momentum when two senior leaders entrusted with the task to examine the support claimed by the NCP and the Congress meeting the Congress President.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel and NCP leader Praful Patel met Mrs Gandhi hours after they were asked by her and the NCP chief to verify the support base of the two parties.

Despite a negative swing of 11.25 in its vote share, the ruling NCP-Congress combine managed to secure 140 seats in the just-concluded Maharashtra Assembly poll, riding roughshod over the much-hyped anti-incumbency factor.



Sushma calls Pawar ‘Man of the Match’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj today denied that she had credited Congress President Sonia Gandhi for the victory in the Maharashtra Assembly elections and said that NCP Chief Sharad Pawar was the ‘Man of the Match’.

“Ms Sonia Gandhi’s leadership was not an issue in the Maharashtra elections as the elections were fought on local issues. When the final tally came, I said that this was the lowest performance by the Congress Party in the history of Maharashtra”, Ms Swaraj said in a statement.


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