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Maharashtra: Congress, NCP agree 'in-principle' to form govt; Sena says will wrap up within 4-5 days

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Mumbai, Nov 20: In a significant development amid the ongoing stalemate in Maharashtra over government formation, leaders of the Congress and the NCP on Wednesday expressed confidence of forming a "stable" government in Maharashtra in the coming days.

 Have agreed in principle to form govt in Maharashtra: Nawab Malik after Cong-NCP meeting

After a marathon meeting of senior leaders of the two parties at NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's residence here, former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said the alliance is hopeful of ending the spell of political uncertainty in the state and working to provide a stable government.

While the Congress leader hoped that political uncertainty will soon end in Maharashtra, NCP Spokesperson Nawab Malik, who joined Chavan at a press conference after the meeting, was categorical in indicating that the two parties will join hands with the Shiv Sena saying it is clear that the three parties will have to come together.

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 is the most emphatic public statement by the Congress-NCP combine about their intent to join hands with the Sena to form a government.

A senior NCP leader said a government is likely to be formed before the first phase of the Jharkhand 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 Nationalist Congress Party. The Congress is likely to have the deputy chief minister's post for the full five-year term, they said. However, Congress sources asserted that the issue of rotational chief ministership did not come up during the discussion with the NCP.

The two parties will have another round of meeting on Thursday to give final touches to the contours of the alliance. There will be discussions between the Shiv Sena and the Congress-NCP alliance in Mumbai on Friday, following which an announcement on government formation will be made.

Earlier, speaking to reporters after the nearly four-hour-long meeting at NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's residence here, both Chavan and Malik said the current spell of President's rule in the state has brought administration to a standstill, and the two parties are confident of ending this.

The announcement, which is likely to end whatever little doubt remained over whether the Congress will back the Sena or not amid reports of opposition to such an alliance by a section of its leaders, came a day after Pawar met Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh, KC Venugopal, Balasaheb Thorat, Prithviraj Chavan, Naseem Khan and NCP leaders Chagan Bhujbal, Supriya Sule, Nawab Malik and Praful Patel were part of the deliberations held at Pawar's residence.

The development came ahead of a Congress-NCP Maharashtra Coordination Committee meeting in the national capital in the evening. Post that meeting, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut is slated to meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar to discuss the government formation matter.

Sharad Pawar meets PM Modi amid Maharashtra deadlock

Earlier in the day, Pawar had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss farmers' issues in Maharashtra. Chavan, though, added that some aspects of the likely alliance are still being discussed. "We had a long and positive discussion... We are confident that we will soon be able to give a stable government in Maharashtra," he said. Later, the Congress leaders met party president Sonia Gandhi. They again returned for a fresh round of meeting with the NCP leaders at around 10 pm, that lasted for over an hour.

Will not be delayed any further, says Sanjay Raut

Talking to reporters, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said he is constantly updating party chief Uddhav Thackeray and Aditya Thackeray on the developments in Delhi. The Sena leader also had meetings with Pawar on Wednesday.

"The NCP and the Congress have clearly said that three parties will come together. All three parties have to make a Common Minimum Programme and how will it be implemented...this is being deliberated in these meetings," he said.

Raut also asserted that the process of government formation will not be delayed any further. The state was plunged into a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after its partner refused to accede to its demand of sharing the chief minister's post.

The BJP and Sena, which fought the October 21 assembly polls in 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, won 44 and 54 seats, respectively. The Sena then began talks with the Congress-NCP alliance.

(with PTI inputs)

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