The Congress party on Monday agreed to support the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena to form the next government in Maharashtra. Top Congress leaders, former Maharashtra chief ministers Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde as well as state unit chief Balasaheb Thorat met party president Sonia Gandhi earlier to decide on whether or not to support the Shiv Sena in forming a government in the state.
In the morning, all senior members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met at Gandhi’s residence. However, the meeting was inconclusive and the party leadership decided to meet again at 4 pm, amid indications that the legislators were not in favour of fresh elections in the state.
Senior leaders A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, K C Venugopal also attended the meeting in the evening. Sonia Gandhi also spoke with senior party leader from Maharshtra Nana Patole and discussed the political possibilities, sources said. The Congress is a democratic party and all decisions are taken after extensive discussions, Patole said. The Sena is the second largest party in the 288-member House with 56 MLAs after the BJP (105).
Given the stalemate between the two alliance partners, the role of the Congress with its 44 legislators and the Nationalist Congress Party with 54 MLAs is crucial. The Shiv Sena has time till 7.30 pm on Monday to stake claim
Earlier, Shiv Sena leaders Eknath Shinde and Aaditya Thackeray went to meet Governor B S Koshyari where they staked claim to form government in Maharashtra. Sources in the Sena said, “As per the governor’s invitation to express our willingness and ability to form the government issued to us yesterday, we are responding to it positively.”
“We will seek time from the governor to prove majority in the house,” said a Sena leader.
Shinde has been elected as the leader of the Sena’s legislative wing. Aaditya Thackeray, son of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, was elected from Worli in Central Mumbai in the last month’s assembly polls.