THE SHIV Sena said on Saturday that it would not attend a meeting of NDA allies in New Delhi on Sunday, on the eve of the Winter Session of Parliament, as it had not been invited. Meanwhile, the talks on government formation in Maharashtra are set to move to Delhi, with NCP chief Sharad Pawar likely to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the coming week.
The NCP leadership is expected to meet in Pune on Sunday to discuss the recommendations made in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP), discussed at its first joint meeting with the Congress and Sena on Thursday.
“It is not a question of boycotting the (NDA) meeting. We have not been invited for the meeting and hence we are not going. As to whether we are still a constituent of the NDA, that is for the BJP to decide. Our party chief, Uddhav Thackeray, has not made any statement saying that we are not part of the NDA,” said Vinayak Raut, Sena MP in the Lok Sabha.
“I have come to know that the seating arrangement of our Rajya Sabha MPs in the House has been altered. The BJP has conspired to keep the Sena away from the NDA,” he said.
Action moves to Delhi
With the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena having decided on the first draft of the CMP, the action has moved to Delhi from Mumbai, where Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi will meet in the coming week. Given the differences between the Congress-NCP and Sena, the parties would like to take all precautions that they can anticipate.
The Shiv Sena’s lone minister in the Union Cabinet, Arvind Sawant, quit the Narendra Modi Cabinet on November 11.
Shiv Sena MP and executive editor of party mouthpiece Saamana, Sanjay Raut, said the Sena’s split from the NDA was now only a formality.
“No one has an exclusive claim over the NDA. The Shiv Sena, along with the Akali Dal, are the founding members of the NDA. People who are in charge now were not even present on the scene when the NDA was constituted. We have been forced to drift away from the NDA because of the present political situation in Maharashtra. We have moved apart to ensure that the honour of Maharashtra is not affected,” he said.
Sunday story | Waiting in the wings
He also said the delay in government formation was because the Sena, Congress and NCP wanted to ensure that its government lasts its full term. “You will soon see a Shiv Sainik in the CM’s post in Maharashtra,” he said.
Meanwhile, state NCP president Jayant Patil said Pawar and Sonia were set to meet in Delhi soon. “There is no need for meetings to be held in Maharashtra now. We have decided on the CMP and have forwarded it to our party chiefs. Our chief, Sharad Pawar, and Sonia Gandhi will be meeting in Delhi in the coming days, and a decision will be taken by them on the way forward,” he said.
While there were reports that Pawar and Sonia would meet on Sunday, a senior Congress leader in Delhi said the meeting had been postponed. The NCP leadership is set to meet in Pune on Sunday. “The meeting has not been cancelled. It has been postponed. They will meet soon,” the Congress leader said.
Patil, however, declined to set a time frame on when a final decision would be taken. “If we hurry now, it may create problems in the long run. We are trying to discuss governance issues that we may face while running the government. There are various aspects, like local body elections and other issues, which need to be sorted out as three different parties are coming together. We are taking time to ensure that we are in a position to provide a stable government,” he said.
With the Congress-NCP having diametrically opposite views on several issues as compared to the Sena, the two parties put the CMP as a pre-condition for joining hands with the Sena.
The three parties held their first joint meeting to evolve a CMP on Thursday. As reported by The Indian Express, the Congress and NCP have reportedly obtained an assurance from the Sena that it was not opposed in principle to 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in education. The scheme was initiated by the Congress-NCP during its previous government but was not implemented by the BJP-Sena regime that came later.
Some of the key poll promises made by the two sides in their respective manifestos — blanket farm loan waiver, Rs 10-meal outlets, monthly allowance for unemployed youth, and a job quota for locals in new industries — are also likely to be part of the CMP.
The pre-poll alliance between the BJP and the Sena had secured an absolute majority in the Assembly polls, but their post-election power tussle saw the state slip into President’s Rule this week.
— With ENS, New Delhi
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