Mumbai / NCP may demand sharing CM post in Maharashtra, Congress eyes speaker’s chair

Hindustan Times : Nov 13, 2019, 11:15 AM
Hours after President’s rule was imposed in Maharashtra, allies Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) launched formal talks on Tuesday and said they will soon finalise a formula for sharing power in a Shiv Sena-led state government, people familiar with the matter said.

The NCP wants the chief minister’s post for two-and-a-half-years, half the government’s term, a person familiar with the developments said. The demand could be a major hurdle in the three parties reaching an agreement on the sharing of power.

A day after the Shiv Sena did not get an expected letter of support from the Congress and NCP and minutes after President’s Rule was imposed in the state, leaders of the Congress and NCP met in Mumbai to work out a power sharing formula and common minimum programme.

Congress’s organisation general secretary KC Venugopal, along with other senior leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, and Ahmed Patel, reached Mumbai in the evening.

They held a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar at the YB Chavan Centre for around one-and-a-half hours.

Congress and NCP leaders said after the meeting that a decision on supporting Shiv Sena to form a government will be taken once they arrive at a consensus.

“There will discussions between Congress and NCP over the common minimum programme and other issues first before discussing it with the Sena. The decision over supporting Sena to form the government will be taken once we arrive at an agreement over the policies and programmes of the government to be formed,” Patel said.

While insisting that the Congress participate in the government to ensure its stability, NCP has insisted on the rotation of the chief minister’s post. Although the Congress has not put forth any such demand, leaders from both sides say that it could become a bone of contention during discussions among the three parties.

The leaders also discussed equal sharing of ministerial berths among the three parties. Congress is expected to demand the post of speaker of the Assembly. “We have almost arrived at the decision of participating in the government and will be pressing for significant departments,” said a Congress leader.

Pawar said that the governor, by imposing President’s Rule, had given ample time for discussion on the formation of the next government. He said that they hadn’t discussed sharing of power yet as the priority for them are the policies of a government that would be headed by the Sena.