Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi to break logjam in Maharashtra

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Nov 18, 2019

NCP chief Sharad Pawar addresses a press conference after a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi , in New Delhi | Photo Credit: KK

No talk on govt formation, but briefed Sonia on political situation, says NCP chief

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar on Monday met Congress President Sonia Gandhi for the second time to pave the way for government formation in Maharashtra with a largely agricultural-centric agenda for the western State that has been reeling under acute rural distress.

The Congress top leadership has had concerns about aligning with Shiv Sena, an absolute necessity for adding up the required numbers for a simple majority in the Assembly. However, the State leaders have been more willing to gain a foothold in government and believe that the party high command’s concerns about aligning with the Sena are misplaced. Pawar said after the meeting that further parleys need to be held in Mumbai with all stakeholders before taking a final decision on government formation.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Pawar said he had briefed the Congress President about the political situation in Maharashtra but added, within days of asserting that a Sena-NCP-Congress government will last its full tenure, that there was “no talk on government formation in the State”.

“We have discussed in detail the political situation in Maharashtra,” was all he was willing to say. “We will keep an eye on the situation in Maharashtra. Congress and NCP leaders will hold further talks on the future course of action,” he added.

Alternative government

The NCP has been busy working on the details of an alternative government formation after Thackeray-led Shiv Sena’s alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fell apart over the chief minister’s post.

Pawar, who has held a long tenure at the Centre as Agriculture Minister, has been reportedly thrashing out a rural economy-centric Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for the alternative alliance government. The CMP reportedly boasts of a complete farm loan waiver. It also envisages a re-organisation of the crop insurance scheme. Another big promise is believed to be a 50 per cent increase in the minimum support price of all crops in accordance with the Swaminathan Commission recommendation. The Congress acknowledged Pawar’s meeting with Sonia as a step ‘forward’.

“Sharad Pawar met the Congress President today and briefed her on the situation in Maharashtra. It was decided that in a day or two, representatives from NCP and Congress will meet in Delhi to discuss the way forward,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a tweet.

Congress and NCP leaders have held a series of meetings in the last few days to finalise the modalities for a Sena-led government in Maharashtra. Ahead of his meeting with Gandhi, Pawar said all political parties seeking to stake claim to form the government in Maharashtra had to ‘choose their own path’.

Maharashtra was placed under the President’s rule on November 12 after no party or alliance staked claim to form the government. In the October 21 State polls, the BJP-Sena alliance had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, had won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.

Published on November 18, 2019
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