Sharad Pawar-Congress meeting may seal Maharashtra deal


MUMBAI: Congress and NCP leaders expect the process of government formation in Maharashtra along with Shiv Sena to gain momentum after NCP president Sharad Pawar irons out the differences with senior Congress leaders in Delhi on Monday.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said Pawar will meet senior leaders of his own party in Pune on Sunday, following it up with deliberations with Congress veteran Ahmed Patel and AICC general secretaries Malikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal in Delhi on Monday. "We are moving in the right direction, we are confident that a government comprising Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress will be formed soon,'' Malik said.
A senior Congress leader said once a basic structure for power-sharing in a three-party alliance is in place, Pawar will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. "So far, no dates have been finalised, but we hope that Pawar, Gandhi and Thackeray may meet any day after November 19,'' the Congress leader said.
Besides Pawar, Patel had met Thackeray too and suggested that if Congress, NCP and Sena were to form a government, it would require Sena to come out of the NDA and for a common minimum program (CMP) to be drafted. A CMP stressing on welfare of farmers and minorities, and improvements in public health sector was drafted.
After the draft CMP was prepared, Thackeray met state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat. Sena has staked claim to the CM's post, but there is a likelihood of two deputy CMs to be appointed, one each from Congress and NCP.
A former Congress MP said the party's leadership is not in a hurry to forge an alliance, but would rather move carefully in view of the bitter experience in Karnataka. "So far, no date has been fixed for Gandhi's meeting with Thackeray. She will meet the Sena leader only after the entire formula on CM, deputy CM, sharing of portfolios is finalised,'' he said. A former CM said the delay was however, making legislators restless.