Amid the prolonged BJP-Sena stalemate over government formation in Maharashtra, senior Congress leader Milind Deora on Friday suggested that the NCP and Congress should now stake claim to form the government with outside support from other parties (read Shiv Sena) and independent legislators.
This is the first time a senior Congress leader has openly suggested that the NCP and Congress should try to have a shot at power and think about some sort of indirect association with the Sena. The Congress had so far maintained that the people’s mandate for the alliance was to sit in the Opposition and it would respect that.
“It is very unfortunate that in a very important state, the second biggest state in the country, we still don’t have a government. A pre-poll alliance was formed by the BJP and Shiv Sena. That alliance received the people’s mandate but because of internal politics, both parties are not interested in forming the government. This is absurd and unprecedented. The Congress and NCP were very clearly voted to sit in the Opposition, but now the NCP and Congress must explore options because India’s commercial capital cannot be left without a government,” Deora told The Indian Express.
Asked whether the options include a tie-up with the Sena, the former Union minister said, “One option could be that the NCP-Congress form the government and other parties and independents are free to support from outside. The Congress should not compromise on its ideology and value system.”
Asked if the Congress would be willing to talk to the Sena, Deora said, “The Congress must be careful not to compromise on its ideology. We should also be careful not to repeat the experiments of Delhi and Bihar. I don’t know what Shiv Sena’s plans are. They will have to come clean on whether they want to stay with BJP at the Centre and in various municipalities. It is for them to decide whether they want to break their alliance.”
While the Congress had let AAP form the government with its outside support in 2013, in Bihar Nitish Kumar became the Chief Minister with Congress and RJD support. Deora hinted that it should be the other way around in Maharashtra.
Since the BJP and Sena are not able to form the government, Deora said, the Governor would have to invite the next party or alliance. “In the latter’s case, it is Maha Aghadi — NCP and Congress. I personally believe that BJP-Shiv Sena have left Mumbai and Maharashtra hanging by a thread by rejecting the peoples’ mandate and not forming the government.”
However, he said, “No conversation can happen with parties if they are still part of the NDA.” “You can’t be in two different marriages at the same time… So all parties will have to decide what is their ideology and motivation. Then I think one option could be for the NCP and Congress to take the initiative to form the government. We are together as an alliance and we have more numbers than anyone else, including the Sena individually,” Deora said.
“Maybe other parties can consider supporting us from outside. We should be able to bring in like-minded parties supporting us from outside and inside in order to provide stable governance for five years. After the Governor invites us, it is for others to decide. When the UPA government was formed, parties that were not part of the pre-poll alliance wanted to support us.”
Asked whether the Sena would agree to this formulation, he said, “They will have to choose between a rock and a hard place.”