The Shiv Sena on Monday was racing against time to cobble together an alliance to form a government in Maharashtra, with the Congress and the NCP mulling extending their support to the right-wing party. Amid a flurry of meetings in the national capital and in Mumbai, the NCP has said that it will decide on whether to support a Shiv Sena-led government in coordination with its ally the Congress. The Congress is expected to take a final call on extending support to the Shiv Sena at a meeting of its top leadership with Maharashtra state leaders at 4 pm.
The Sena, the second-largest party in the 288-member House with 56 MLAs after the BJP, which has 105 members, has time till 7:30 pm to stake claim on government formation. In the morning, Union Heavy Industries Minister and Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant announced his decision to quit the NDA government at the Centre. This came after NCP leader Sharad Pawar said the Shiv Sena will have to first sever ties with the NDA for his party to take a call on supporting it.
The Congress has already deliberated on the political situation in Maharastra at a meeting of its Working Committee. "We will sit again at 4 pm and will decide on the issue after a meeting with our state leaders," AICC general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge said after the CWC meeting. The Congress Working Committee is the highest decision-making body of the party. Sources said since the Congress MLAs are not keen on fresh elections and want to keep the BJP out of power, they favour extending outside support to the Sena.
Three former chief ministers of Maharashtra -- Ashok Chavan, Prithivraj Chavan and Sushilkumar Shind -- state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and K C Padavi will meet the senior leadership of the party, including Ahmed Patel. Kharge said leaders from the state will give their views to the top leadership and the party will decide on its course of action after that. "We have always maintained distance from the right-wing party which is the Shiv Sena. Their internal differences have precipitated the situation in Maharashtra," senior Congress leader M M Pallam Raju said.
In Mumbai, NCP leader Nawab Malik said it is the responsibility of "all of us" to give an alternative considering the plight of people in the state. He, however, said the NCP will take any decision in consensus with its ally the Congress in the evening. He also said communication between the Shiv Sena and NCP was on. "It is the responsibility of us all to provide an alternative given the plight of the people and farmers. We are expecting a decision from Congress. If there is a consensus, we will proceed towards government formation," the NCP chief spokesperson said.