MUMBAI: As the Congress-NCP get serious about government formation with the Shiv Sena and hold a series of meetings, Uddhav Thackeray expressed satisfaction that the things are moving in the right direction.
While the attempt throughout Wednesday was to evolve a broader consensus including finalization of the “common minimum program”, Shiv Sena also came up with its set of suggestions regarding the structure of the government.
First thing on Wednesday, the NCP conducted a meeting of its MLAs and formed a five-member team to further negotiations with the Congress.
NCP’s legislature party head Ajit Pawar, its Maharashtra chief Jayant Patil, party veteran Chhagan Bhujbal, Mumbai unit president Nawab Malik and Leader of the Opposition in state Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde comprise the NCP team.
The team will also be part of the joint committee for evolving a ‘common minimum program’ (CMP) before beginning talks with the Shiv Sena for government formation in Maharashtra.
The Congress is yet to officially finalize its team as its MLAs are not in Maharashtra.
The MLAs are expected to arrive in Mumbai late in the evening on Wednesday after which the team will be formalized, said the party sources.
However, that didn’t stop the party from furthering its talks with the NCP and Shiv Sena separately.
Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat, former state chief minister Ashok Chavan and senior party leader Manikrao Thakare held talks with Uddhav Thackeray and Subhash Desai at a suburban hotel in the morning where they discussed the modalities of the ‘common minimum program’.
“We are headed for the right direction,” Thackeray said after the talks while expressing satisfaction about the whole process, while Thorat tried to downplay it calling it just a “courtesy call”.
“Talks are on the right direction and the decision will be known to everyone,” Thackeray said without revealing much about what transpired between the leaders during the meeting. He declined to give any timeline on government formation.
The leaders, however, indicated that the CMP would be centered on the farmers and the farm crisis.
The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, conveyed the structure of the government it had on its mind. While the Congress and the NCP had put forth their respective formulae of government formation, Shiv Sena suggested that they will share Chief Minister’s post with the NCP for 2.5 while the Congress shall get a Deputy Chief Minister for 5 years.
While Sena and NCP shall get 14 ministries each, the Congress will get 11. Thackeray is said to have conveyed the formula to the senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel at a meeting late Tuesday night.
The Congress, in its formula, had earlier said that none of the Thackerays would occupy CM or Dy CM’s post. However, party sources today said that the condition is likely to be dropped in the course of negotiations.
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, meanwhile, said today that the party was on alert to prevent a possible “Operation lotus” - attempts by the BJP to engineer defections from other parties - in Maharashtra.
Chavan said this while reacting to a statement from former Chief Minister Narayan Rane, who has said that the BJP has entrusted with government formation in “Whichever way” he can. The BJP, however, had clarified immediately that it was Rane’s personal opinion.