MUMBAI: Senior Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge, who were supposed to come to Mumbai on Tuesday to discuss modalities of support to the Shiv Sena for government formation in Maharashtra, have deferred their visit, a Congress leader said.
The two leaders postponed their visit after NCP chief Sharad Pawar conveyed that state leaders of both the parties will first discuss the "terms and conditions" of government formation, former Maharashtra Congress president Manikrao Thakare told PTI.
"The Maharashtra Congress leaders will discuss the broad contours of government formation with their NCP counterparts on Tuesday before inviting the Shiv Sena for talks," he said.
When asked if there is a delay on part of Congress, Pawar said: "I will talk to the Congress."
"Who says there is a meeting, I don't know," he said responding to a question about a meeting scheduled today between Congress and NCP.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday discussed the state's political situation with Pawar and accordingly, it was decided that the state NCP and Congress leaders "will discuss the terms and conditions and a 'common minimum programme' for government formation" later in the day, he said.
"The Shiv Sena leaders are likely to join the discussions after the Congress and NCP come to an agreement. Sharad Pawar has informed the Congress central leadership that he would come to Delhi and finalise details with them," Thakare said.
"Hence, AICC general secretaries Venugopal and Kharge, who were to come to Mumbai, deferred their visit," he said.
Meanwhile, a senior NCP leader, on condition of anonymity, said unless all the three parties - Congress, NCP and Sena - join the government, there would be no stability.
"Hence, we want that the Congress should be part of the government," the leader said.
"We (Congress and NCP) fought elections together. That's why we should make the decision together. We (NCP) waited for their (Congress) letter yesterday. But we did not receive the letter by the evening. It was not right for us to give the letter. Whatever be the decision, there should be stability," NCP leader Ajit Pawar told reporters on Tuesday.
"I have come to know that Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray called NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and told him that they did not get extra time from the Governor, Bhagat Singh Koshyari to form the government," said Pawar.
"From morning 10 am till 7:30 pm on Monday, our leaders including Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel were waiting for their letter. They (Shiv Sena) had to submit the letter till 7:30 pm on Monday", Pawar added.
Pawar said that the NCP has called a meeting of all its 54 MLAs today.
"We will make the decision and likewise the Congress should also take the decision," he said.
On the other hand, Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil said: "We are always with the view of seating in opposition, we will talk to Congress and then will decide further course of action".
The Shiv Sena on Monday suffered a setback in its efforts to cobble up a non-BJP government in Maharashtra with the Congress at the last moment announcing its decision to hold more talks with ally NCP on supporting the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.
While Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray said two parties (Congress and NCP) have agreed "in-principle" support to the Sena-led government, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari refused additional time sought by his party to muster numbers.
Later, the NCP, which is the third-largest party in the state, got an invite from the governor, asking it to express "willingness and ability to form a government" by 8.30 pm on Tuesday.
With 54 MLAs, the NCP is the third-largest party after the BJP (105) and the Shiv Sena (56) in the 288-member House, where the halfway mark in 145.
Congress has 44 MLAs.
The majority mark in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly is 145.
The Shiv Sena insisted on getting the post of chief minister for two-and-a-half years but the BJP said there had not been any such understanding between the two parties ahead of the polls. Shiv Sena emerged as the second-largest party in the polls and got 56 seats.
Both the NCP and the Congress held meetings in the morning over the developments as the Shiv Sena expressed its desire to form a non-BJP government. The NCP made it clear that it will not make a decision without its ally Congress spelling out its stance. The NCP has 54 MLAs in the assembly while the Congress has 44.
On the other hand, the Congress Working Committee discussed the developments in Maharashtra and decided to have a meeting with its leaders from Maharashtra before taking a decision.
However, at the end of deliberations, the party issued a statement which talked of further consultations with the NCP and made no mention of the Shiv Sena.
(With ANI Inputs)