A day after holding closed-door talks with her Maharashtra ally NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met senior party leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, AK Antony and KC Venugopal to discuss the political situation in the state. The development has come a day ahead of the scheduled meeting between Congress and NCP leaders to take a call and hammer out issues on forming government in the Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena.
Despite having drafted a common minimum program with the Shiv Sena, both the Congress and the NCP are keeping their cards close to chest. After his meeting with Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar on Monday said that he had only discussed the politcal situation in the western state and a decision to join Shiv Sena to form government in the state will be taken after holding talks with their other allies.
Addressing a press conference after his meeting with the Congress persident in Delhi, Pawar said there was no discussion on a common minimum programme (CMP) during the talks. However, sources have said that the Congress and the NCP have been having detailed discussions on the CMP and the way forward for a possible tie-up with the ideologically opposite party Shiv Sena.
The President's rule was imposed in the state of Maharashtra on November 12 after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari told the Centre that despite his efforts no party could assure him provide a stable government. A day after the imposition of the President's rule, the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP leaders held hectic parleys to work out a CMP for government formation.
At a joint press conference in Mumbai last week with the Congress leaders deputed by Gandhi to hold talks with him, Pawar had said the two parties would discuss and come up with a consensus on what should be the policies and programmes if the Sena was to be supported.
In the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections, the BJP-Sena alliance had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly. However, the ideological twins could not reach consensus on power sharing and the Sena decided to explore what seemed a highly unlikely option - taking support from the NCP and the Congress. The Congress and the NCP, the pre-poll allies, had won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.