NEW DELHI: The Congress Working Committee on Thursday granted in-principle approval to the party to form government in Maharashtra along with the NCP and the Shiv Sena, sources said.
In a meeting chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence here, the party's highest decision-making body also deliberated on the Maharashtra political scenario, they said.
After the meeting, Congress general secretary K C Venugopal told the media that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) was briefed on the party's discussions with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Wednesday.
Congress sources said the final decision on the government formation in Maharashtra is expected by Friday.
"The CWC has broadly agreed to go ahead with government formation with the Shiv Sena and the NCP," the source said.
"Another meeting between the Congress and the NCP is to happen on Thursday night and a final meeting with Shiv Sena will happen on Friday in Mumbai. The decision on government formation in Maharashtra will be announced in Mumbai on Friday," the source said.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, after the marathon meeting between senior Congress and NCP leaders on Wednesday, had expressed confidence about the alliance forming a "stable" government soon in the state.
While the Congress leader hoped that political uncertainty in Maharashtra will soon end, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik was unambiguous about the need to join hands with the Sena, asserting that a government cannot be formed in the state without the three parties coming together.
This was the most emphatic public statement by the Congress-NCP combine so far about its intent to join hands with the Sena to form a government.
A senior NCP leader had said on Wednesday that the government is likely to be formed before the first phase of the Jharkhand Assembly polls scheduled on November 30.
NCP sources said the chief minister's post is most likely to be on a rotational basis, with the first half to be given to the Shiv Sena and the latter to the NCP.
The Congress is likely to have the deputy chief minister's post for the full five-year term, they said.
The CWC on Thursday, the sources said, also discussed the issue of electoral bonds and decided that the Narendra Modi government will be cornered over it both inside Parliament and outside.
On the hand, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said on Thursday that a final decision on the new government in Maharashtra will be taken in the next two days.
He told reporters that there there are no plans of any meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray this week.
He also informed that three parties will collectively decide about power-sharing in Mumbai.
"The time has come, before December 1 the process of formation of the government will be over and the Chief Minister will also be decided. Till yesterday, marathon meetings of Congress-NCP were held here at the NCP Chief Sharad Pawar's residence. In the next two days we will move ahead towards government formation," said Raut.
"The three parties will collectively decide on power-sharing in Mumbai," he added.
"The chief minister will be of Shiv Sena. People want Uddhav Thackeray to be the Chief Minister," said Raut.
Raut also said he will meet NCP president Sharad Pawar on Thursday.
To further discuss the modalities of government formation, another round of meeting among the three parties will be held in Mumbai, he said.
He also told reporters that there are no plans of any meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray this week.
Raut, the editor of party mouthpiece 'Saamana', has emerged as the key leader to hold discussions with the NCP-Congress combine.
"Yesterday's (Wednesday) meeting was on the Common Minimum Programme and leaders of the two parties (NCP and Congress) have said the deliberations were positive. In a day or two, the three parties will reach a consensus. Maharashtra will get a stable government led by Shiv Sena before December," Raut said.
"In the interest of the state and its people, we want to run the government and that too for five years."
After a marathon meeting on Wednesday, the Congress and the NCP leaders said they have in-principle agreed to form an alliance in Maharashtra and a give a "stable" state government.
The Shiv Sena still remains tight-lipped on who will be the chief minister from it.
"You will come to know about it very soon. But all Shiv Sainiks and people of the state want Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister," Raut said.
On NCP's demand that the chief minister's post has to be on a rotational basis, Raut said he "did not" have any information on that.
Responding to a question on Congress's concern that Shiv Sena has to mellow down its hardline stance, Raut said the country and its Constitution is based on secularism.
A new government in Maharashtra should be in place before December and a final decision on it will be taken in a day or two, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said on Thursday, amid parleys between his party and the Congress-NCP combine.
"When we accept that then you don't distinguish between farmers, unemployed. Chhatrapati Shivaji took care of every religion and caste. So Maharashtra does not have to import new ideas," he said.
He also said Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray had publicly advocated that oath swore on religious books in courts should be stopped and replaced by the Constitution.
"So don't teach us the meaning of the world secular," Raut said.