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'Congress didn't delay decision on supporting Shiv Sena'

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Mumbai, Nov 12: Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday rejected criticism that the Congress delayed its decision on supporting the Shiv Sena for government formation in the state.

Congress didnt delay decision on supporting Shiv Sena

Asked whether the Congress has agreed to support the Shiv Sena to form the government, Chavan said if that wasn't so, his party would not have held prolonged discussions in Delhi on Monday. Amid speculation that President's rule may be imposed in the state on Tuesday, senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde said even if the President's rule comes into force, it could be lifted once parties have the numbers and stake claim to form the government.

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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. "The Shiv Sena was an NDA ally and there was no question we could support it. Its lone minister Arvind Sawant quit the Modi Cabinet yesterday. It is not true that Congress delayed the decision," Chavan told PTI.

Asked if the Congress has agreed to support the Shiv Sena to form the government, he said, "If that wasn't so, we would not have held prolonged discussions in Delhi yesterday." Chavan said the state Congress leaders will meet their NCP counterparts in Mumbai later in the day to discuss the process of government formation. "I don't think the issue would be resolved today," he added.

On rumours that President's rule could be imposed in the state, former Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who arrived here from Delhi, said, "Even if President's rule is imposed today, it can be lifted once the parties decide they have the numbers and stake claim to form the government." Meanwhile, sources in the Shiv Sena said the party was awaiting a final decision on the Congress-NCP deliberations.

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"All our MLAs are together and are watching the developments in Congress and NCP. After they arrive at a decision, we will join in," a Sena source said. As hectic deliberations continued, Congress central leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal would be leaving for Mumbai later in the day for holding discussions with NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Earlier in the morning, Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to Pawar over the telephone and asked her party leaders to meet Pawar in Mumbai.

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