Maharashtra: Congress delays decision, talks shifted to Mumbai

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 12, 2019

Sharad Pawar

Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC general secretary in-charge for Maharashtra, leaves after a meeting of the Congress Working Committee at 10, Janpath, in New Delhi, on Monday   -  PTI

Senior Congress leaders reluctant to support Shiv Sena-NCP as it will hamper the secular image of their party

The Congress is yet to formally announce its position on the question of supporting Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, but sources indicate that it may support a Shiv Sena-NCP government. However, the party will have to reach out to all MLAs and senior leaders in the State, and the high command will send a delegation to Mumbai to complete this process.

The Congress’ indecision has delayed the formation of the government, and the Shiv Sena asked Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for 48 hours’ time to stake claim, which was rejected.

On Friday, after detailed discussions about its approach regarding the Shiv Sena, the Congress said no decision has been taken and party president Sonia Gandhi will hold further discussions with the NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

Read: Congress, NCP will decide together: Pawar on Maharashtra impasse

Party divided

Differences among senior leaders seem to be the reason behind the Congress’ indecision. A section of the seniors in the party are against any type of alliance with the Shiv Sena, while another section believes that any move to keep the BJP away from power should be welcomed. They also believe that fissures in the NDA would help the Opposition in the future.

The Congress Working Committee met in the morning to assess the situation. Senior leaders, including AICC general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge, and AK Antony, reportedly voiced their apprehensions and said supporting a Sena government will backfire and will hamper the “secular image” of the Congress.

Sonia is also learnt to be in support of this view. But she wanted to hear the views of Congress leaders from the State. Former Maharashtra CMs Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde and State unit chief Balasaheb Thorat were summoned to 10 Janpath and met Sonia on Monday evening to decide whether or not support should be given to the Shiv Sena.

“We have already discussed with PCC leaders. The AICC president has spoken to Pawar. Further discussions will take place in Mumbai. Beyond this, there is nothing (to say),” Kharge told reporters after the meeting. Without the support of 44 MLAs of the Congress, it would be difficult for the Shiv Sena and the NCP to form a government.

Formal request

Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray also talked to Sonia on Monday to formally seek the support of the party to form a government. The Congress president reportedly told him that she has to hold discussions with her party’s leaders before taking a decision.

Read: Uddhav Thackeray phones Sonia Gandhi; seeks support to form government

Published on November 11, 2019

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