New Delhi: Forty Congress Maharashtra legislators have written to the party’s interim chief Sonia Gandhi, saying they are willing to back a Shiv Sena-led government in the state, ThePrint has learnt.
“They want Soniaji to consider supporting the government to keep the BJP at bay, especially considering the developments and circumstances,” said a Maharashtra Congress leader.
The Congress has 44 legislators in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly.
The development comes as Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant, a union minister, resigned Monday, effectively exiting the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. The move is significant as it cedes to a key demand made by Sharad Pawar’s NCP ahead of any alliance talks with the Sena — cut all ties with the BJP.
Long-time allies the BJP and Shiv Sena have been at loggerheads since 24 October, when the results of the Maharashtra assembly polls were announced. The two parties fought as pre-poll allies and won a majority, but have been fighting ever since over a 50:50 power-sharing formula.
On Sunday, the Shiv Sena was asked to prove majority after the BJP declined to stake claim.
The Congress, meanwhile, which fought the polls in alliance with the NCP, remained undecided on backing a Sena-led government in Maharashtra. Pawar has left the decision to the Congress, saying the NCP will take a call only after the national party decides its stand.
The Congress now has called a meeting of senior state leaders at 4pm Monday to discuss the situation. Former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan, former state unit chief Sushil Kumar Shinde, current state unit chief Balasaheb Thorat and Congress CLP leader and leader of the opposition will be present at the meeting.
“We have assessed the situation in Maharashtra and will take a final call after meeting senior Maharashtra leaders,” the party’s state in-charge Malikarjun Kharge said.
Also read: Shiv Sena, at loggerheads with BJP, can’t align with NCP, Congress. It will be self-harming
The Congress has been deliberating its options in the state, where it managed to maintain its place in the assembly elections defying dismal expectations.
State Congress leaders, along with a persistent Pawar, have been trying to convince Gandhi to “defeat the BJP at any cost in the state”. But the party has so far been careful not to ally with the Shiv Sena because of ideological differences.
“In Maharashtra, the alliance may work for the Congress, but at the national level it may have negative implications,” a Maharashtra Congress leader told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity. “Allying with Sena may alienate the minorities.”
In a bid to convince Gandhi, Pawar flew down to Delhi on 4 November. Sources then had told ThePrint that Gandhi was reluctant to join hands with the Shiv Sena but had asked the NCP and the state Congress to work out a feasible formula.
Also read: How Uddhav Thackeray shed his Rahul Gandhi image to be a Shiv Sena leader in his own right
Congress is desperate to gran power. it has been more than five years since they had looted the country.
Given ground realities, the Congress high command – there really should be a better word to describe what remains – should have left it to a Shri Sharad Pawar’s judgment. The forty MLAs are pawing the ground impatiently. The old fear of the leadership is gone.
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