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Uddhav Thackeray likely to meet Sonia Gandhi, Sena says alliance talks on track

Sena leader says more than 45 MLAs of BJP are in touch but ‘we don’t want to break them’.

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Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi before the two parties, along with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), formalise their post-poll alliance to form government in Maharashtra, party leaders have told ThePrint.

The three parties have been discussing the modalities of their power-sharing arrangement over the last 36 hours, with the Congress and the NCP pushing to incorporate in the common minimum programme (CMP) clauses that would reconcile their ideological differences, especially concerning ‘migrants’ and minorities.

According to a senior Shiv Sena leader, even as many stories are being floated of the three parties not coming to a consensus over government formation, “all is well”.

On Thursday, Thackeray is likely to meet his prospective alliance partners to discuss the CMP. This comes a day after he had discussions with state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat, former chief minister Ashok Chavan and senior party leader Manikrao Thakare at a hotel.

‘No issues of ideology’

According to sources, the first Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena joint meeting will be held Thursday. “NCP state chief, Congress state chief and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray are likely to meet”.

“We have taken a decision to form the government with NCP and Congress. There are no issues of ideology or otherwise as is being spread. We don’t differentiate between Hindus or Muslims. For us, everyone is a citizen of India. Soon, Shiv Sena leaders will meet Sonia Gandhi too to finalise other details,” said a senior leader. “When BJP formed the government in Kashmir what happened to ideology then? This is all being said to shift the focus from main issues.”

Reiterating its position, the leader said the 50:50 promise was made between BJP president Amit Shah and Uddhav Thackeray, which the BJP is now denying.

“We don’t do ‘dhanda’ (business), we nurture relationships. But on October 25 itself, we knew we had to look for an alternative as the BJP was going back on its word of 50:50 promise. We then decided to reach out to Pawar sahab,” said the leader.

‘NCP hasn’t kept us in the dark’

Asked if Sena has trust issues with Pawar, given rumours that he had precipitated the situation towards President’s Rule, the leader said: “Pawar sahab is a tall leader and had good relations with Bala Sahab too. The President’s rule has given us enough time. NCP hasn’t kept us in the dark. They are an independent party and they will take individual decisions (writing to the Governor seeking more time),” said the leader.

According to another Sena leader, more than 45 MLAs of BJP are in touch with them. “But we don’t want to indulge in breaking them. BJP should know unlike Sena their party is made of people from NCP and Congress. As far as our MLAs are concerned, not a single one will break away,” he said.

The leader further said the entire process of government formation would take at least a month. “We have already started working on the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and we will have a meeting with NCP and Congress on this. There are 10 major points on which the CMP will be framed including farmers, unemployment, infrastructure, health, social justice among others,” said a source.

According to Sena, they were also quite clear that they didn’t want Congress to offer support from outside but to be part of the government. “We were sure they should be part of the government and Pawar sahab played a crucial role,” said another leader.

When asked who would lead the government, the party leader said Uddhav Thackeray is the face of the party and the cadre wants him to lead the government. “NCP or Congress haven’t asked us yet for rotational CM post. Only the media has been posing such questions. Once they do, we will discuss it,” added the leader.

Also read: Will joining Shiv Sena-NCP alliance help revive Congress or damage it further nationally?


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