The National Congress Party(NCP) chief, Mr. Sharad Pawar is to meet the Congress president, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, in Delhi on Monday, as the stand-off between the BJP and the Shiv Sena over government formation in Maharashtra continues. Officially both leaders will talk about the condition of the country's economy, but speculation suggests they will discuss the possibility of supporting the Sena in an attempt to keep the BJP away from power.
Mr Pawar, 78, who will meet his party MLAs in Mumbai on Saturday before leaving for Delhi on Sunday, has sought to play down the importance of the meeting, saying that parties were allowed to speak to each other without involving either the BJP or the Sena.
The meeting will come three days after a Congress Rajya Sabha MP wrote to Ms Gandhi urging her to 'be open to the prospect of forming a government with the Shiv Sena' Mr. Husain Dalwai reminded Ms Gandhi that the Sena had extended her support 'on several occasions' in the past.
'... certain sections of supporters of Congress, including supporters from the minority communities are of the opinion that Congress and our ally NCP should be open to the prospect of forming a government with Shiv Sena,' he said.
The Mr Pawar-Mrs Gandhi will also come after Sena leader, Mr. Sanjay Raut, who has been relentless in his criticism of the BJP, met Mr Pawar in Mumbai. Mr Raut, who described the visit as a Diwali courtesy call, told reporters: 'If the Shiv Sena decides, it will get the required numbers to form stable government'.
There were also reports that the Sena chief, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, and Mr Pawar had spoken on the phone on Friday, but sources within the NCP have denied that.