Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 20
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have agreed in principle to form an alternative government in Maharashtra, NCP leader Nawab Malik said on Wednesday—indicating that the parties were a step closer to closing a deal with the Shiv Sena.
“A stable government cannot be formed without three parties coming together—Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena. There would be a stable government in the state,” NCP Nawab Malik told the press after a meeting that Congress and NCP leaders held at Sharad Pawar's residence in the national capital.
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said talks with the NCP would continue.
"Congress-NCP had long and positive discussions today. Discussions will continue. I am sure we will be able to give a stable govt to Maharashtra very soon," he said.
Both leaders said the current spell of President's rule in the state has brought administration to a standstill, and the two parties were confident of ending this.
There were indications of a likely Sena-Congress-NCP alliance after Sonia Gandhi agreed with the view of her state colleagues that the BJP is currently a bigger ideological rival than the Sena and keeping the BJP at bay is the top priority. NCP, which had been urging the Congress to join the Government in Maharashtra, seems to have succeeded in convincing Sonia Gandhi that such an arrangement is a must for the stability of a dispensation.
The development comes as government formation in the state hangs fire, primarily as a result of talks breaking down between allies Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena. The bone of contention between the two parties was the chief minister’s position—while the Sena said that the BJP had promised it a turn at the chair, the latter categorically denied making any such promises.
With talks with the BJP going nowhere, the Sena decided to turn to NCP and the Congress—both rivals that fought against the BJP-Sena combine in both Lok Sabha and general elections.
Elections held on October 21—almost a month ago—gave 105 seats to the BJP, 57 to the Sena, 54 to the NCP and 44 to the Congress.
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