The political roulette in Maharashtra continued Monday with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari inviting the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to show its willingness to form the government. The NCP has been given time till 8.30 pm Tuesday to inform the Governor of its willingness to form the government.
“Being the third largest party, the Governor has asked the NCP about its willingness to form the next government. We have told him that we would need to consult with our alliance partner and that we will get back to him as soon as possible,” state NCP president Jayant Patil said Monday evening.
However, if senior party sources are to be believed, it would be difficult for the NCP to convince the Congress leadership to go along with the Shiv Sena within the given time, while indicating that the state could be heading towards President’s rule.
The Sharad Pawar-led NCP was called to form the government Monday, after the BJP expressed its unwillingness to form government, and then the Shiv Sena, which was invited next and given 23 hours to prove its intent, could not show support for its claim within the stipulated time. Leader of NCP’s legislative wing, Ajit Pawar, was called by the Governor’s office to meet Koshyari where the formal proposal was handed over to a delegation of party leaders.
The NCP has 54 seats in the state Assembly, while its ally Congress has 44 seats. The alliance is short of 47 seats in the Assembly to cross the half-way mark and prove its majority. The party would need the support of Shiv Sena, which has 56 seats, for it to have any realistic chance of forming the government.
The NCP leadership was in meetings through the day with its core committee conferring in Mumbai. Until the evening, when the Congress leadership backed out from announcing its support to the Shiv Sena, the NCP had been claiming that it was in a position to form an alternative government in the state.
“We are willing to form an alternate government and we had a discussion on this regard in our core committee meeting as well. We are, however, waiting for a decision to be made by our alliance partner Congress,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
While NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s impressive election campaign had set the stage for NCP’s resurgence in Maharashtra, there has been a vocal section of senior party leaders that believe that returning to power in the state was essential for the party to rebuild and keep its flock together. Senior leaders of the party will meet in Mumbai Tuesday morning to review the evolving political situation yet again.
Claiming that his party was waiting for a formal letter of support from the Congress, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said they would reach out to Sena. “We will have a discussion with Uddhav Thackeray before we go to the Governor… We had been given a mandate to sit in Opposition, but we also have a responsibility of giving a stable government to the state at this time,” he said.