Congress leaders meet Sharad Pawar to finalise Maharashtra alliance

Congress leaders meet Sharad Pawar to finalise Maharashtra alliance

Agency News

A group of Congress leaders arrived at Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar's residence in Delhi today for a meeting to chalk out the contours of the proposed alliance with Shiv Sena to form the government in Maharashtra.

An alliance seemed to be taking shape as top Congress leaders held discussions with the NCP at Sharad Pawar's home while a senior Congress leader separately met the Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut. Congress sources said their leader Sonia Gandhi "is positive" on government formation. Earlier, Sonia Gandhi had been reluctant to join hands with the ideologically contrasting and pro-Hindutva Shiv Sena.

According to the deal in circulation, the Shiv Sena has to share chief ministership with the NCP, with first shot to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. There will be two deputy chief ministers, one from the Congress. A coordination committee to find common ground between the vastly mismatched parties is also part of the deal. The Shiv Sena may also be asked to tone down its Hindutva rhetoric.

Ahead of the meeting, NCP’s Nawab Malik said the only way to form the government was by allying with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party. Clarifying on party supremo Sharad Pawar’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, Malik said farmers were going through a tough phase as there was no government in the state and the meeting was to apprise the PM of the crisis. “Today at 5pm there will be a meeting between NCP and Congress at Sharad Pawar's Delhi residence... We will be discussing about government formation in Maharashtra,” he said.

Shiv Sena’s senior leader Sanjay Raut too sought to play down the meeting, saying Pawar had always been concerned about farmers of the state after which all parties from Maharashtra will call on Modi to seek funds for affected farmers. “There is no division in our party ranks... all rumours about any divisions are false. We are confident of forming a government in Maharashtra by the first week of December.”