New Delhi/Mumbai: Contrary to perceptions, it was NCP president Sharad Pawar and not the Congress top brass which took a decision on Monday evening to withhold the crucial letters of support to the Shiv Sena for government formation in Maharashtra, Congress sources claimed.
Top Congress sources said Mr Pawar was insisting on a 50:50 power-sharing agreement with the Shiv Sena. This means both the Shiv Sena and the NCP getting the CM’s chair for two and a half years each. The NCP also wanted that it should get the first shot to be chief minister. Some of the other conditions include a well thrashed out common minimum programme and equal share for all three parties — NCP, Sena, Congress — in ministries.
The sources said when Congress president Sonia Gandhi was almost convinced by Monday evening, after a series of meetings since the morning, of not only the need to support the Sena but also participate in any government, she got up and made a call to Mr Pawar to decide on the next move.
However, Mr Pawar is learnt to have told her: “Nothing has happened yet”. A “shocked” Mrs Gandhi then asked her party leaders from Maharashtra what they were talking about when the NCP was not yet fully on board.
Congress leader Manikrao Thakre said, “Sonia Gandhi telephoned Pawar on Monday, but he suggested that the talks be extended for one more day. He said the state leaders of the Congress and the NCP should first hold talks, and only then the leaders in Delhi could be summoned to Maharashtra”.
Thakre said Sonia had phoned Pawar to suggest that a government could only be formed if the Congress, NCP and Sena could develop a common minimum programme.
However, NCP leader Ajit Pawar accused the Congress of delaying the process. “Sharad Pawar was in Mumbai for the entire day. But it was the Congress which delayed its decision,” he claimed.