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Sunday, December 15, 2019

NCP continues to send mixed signals to Sena over support

“Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut is saying a Sena chief minister will take oath on Shiv Theerth. If the Sena decides then any eventuality is possible in Maharashtra. The stand that the Sena now takes is important,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: November 4, 2019 3:52:28 am
Ajit Pawar and NCP chief Sharad Pawar at a meeting on Sunday. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

The NCP continued to confound the Shiv Sena sending mixed signals throughout Sunday over possible support to the party if it decides to break away from the BJP and stake claim to power.

“Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut is saying a Sena chief minister will take oath on Shiv Theerth. If the Sena decides then any eventuality is possible in Maharashtra. The stand that the Sena now takes is important,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

Malik continued to tempt the Sena by saying that the state could see the formation of new political equations. “We will clear our stand after the Sena initiates talks on a coalition with the NCP. So far, no discussion has taken place between the two parties. We are presently behaving as the opposition only. But if the Sena changes its course, then new political equations can come into play,” he added.

The NCP leadership has been sending mixed messages to the Sena over the issue of supporting the party in case it decides to break off its alliance with the BJP. Last week NCP chief Sharad Pawar had said that his party was not in talks with the Sena after reports that the latter was exploring options of staking claim to form the government with the help of the NCP and Congress.

Pawar also said that the central leadership of the Congress has been so far been inimical to the idea of having any pact with the Sena.

On Sunday, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar showed reporters a phone message from Sena MP Sanjay Raut, which just contained a formal introduction of and greetings from the latter.

The Sena and the BJP are locked in a dispute over the chief minister’s post, which has delayed government formation, prompting speculation that the Uddhav Thackeray-led party may ally with the NCP and the Congress to form a government.

The message from Raut read “Namaskar mi Sanjay Raut. Jai Maharashtra”. Speaking on the message, Ajit Pawar said, “This means I should call him. I will call and check.”

Amid the power tussle between the Sena and the BJP, the NCP has been maintaining that it would sit in the Opposition.

While Raut earlier in the day claimed the Sena would soon have its chief minister with the support of “170 MLAs”, Pawar said he was “unaware” how the Sena leader had arrived at this number. “The Congress-NCP and other allies have a strength of 110 seats (which includes Congress’ 44 and NCP’s 54). And we have a mandate to be in the opposition,” Pawar said.

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