M A I N   N E W S

NCP defers decision on Congress proposal
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) today deferred its decision on the Congress proposal regarding government formation in Maharashtra in an apparent effort to extract a better deal from its ally.

NCP office-bearers will now meet here tomorrow morning to deliberate further on the issue.

Throughout the day, the NCP leaders had held out that they would come out with the formal response to the Congress offer of three more ministerial berths and two portfolios from its quota in lieu of the Chief Minister’s post. They had also maintained that their reply would be in the affirmative.

But in the evening, NCP interlocutor Praful Patel announced that they had not been able to firm up their decision as their workers and legislators had not taken kindly to this compromise formula.

NCP sources, however, said its leadership wanted the offer upgraded to include two Deputy Chief Ministers. They said the Congress had initially agreed on this but backtracked subsequently.

Mr Praful Patel, it was stated, had communicated the NCP’s view to Congress leader Ahmed Patel and they are now awaiting a communication from the other side.

“We have nothing to say.....we have not been able to respond to the Congress formula,” Mr Patel said, adding that the legislature party had met in Mumbai today and the feedback they had got from their legislators and workers was not very encouraging.

“As I said yesterday, they are not too enthusiastic about the Congress formula,” Mr Patel told mediapersons after he had briefed NCP chief Sharad Pawar about the mood in the party.

The NCP leader said they would also be holding further consultations with the state leaders as they did not wish to impose any decision on them.

Earlier during the day, the sources indicated that they would accept the Congress formula after an evening meeting of party leaders at Mr Sharad Pawar’s residence.

In fact, they also disclosed that they would be releasing a written statement saying the NCP was ending the ten-day impasse in the spirit of accommodation and to keep the coalition intact.

The NCP leaders had also disclosed the Congress had categorically stated that it would not be possible to give additional ministerial berths and portfolios and

concede the two posts of Deputy Chief Ministers. It could be either one or the other.

Similarly, the Congress had not agreed to the NCP demand for the weightier portfolios like Revenue, Urban Development and Cooperatives, held by the Congress.

The latter was, however, willing to part with Labour and Environment and Forests.


Sharad Pawar authorised to choose leader
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, October 25
The newly elected MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra today authorised party President Sharad Pawar to decide on forming the next government in Maharashtra and electing the party’s leader in the new legislature.

The NCP MLAs held a meeting in the party office here to discuss the proposals put forward by the Congress on government formation. However, the MLAs chose not to take up the proposals for discussion and authorised Mr Pawar to decide on the matter, party spokesperson Vasant Chavan told reporters.

According to party sources, the NCP is considering the Congress offer of additional ministerial berths in addition to the post of Deputy Chief Minister. It has also been suggested that the NCP have two Deputy Chief Ministers in return for giving up the Chief Minister’s post to the Congress.

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