Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday pushed the pedal to the metal to finalise his party’s alliance with the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine, holding meetings with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and later, the party’s two top Maharashtra leaders, Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat.
As he emerged from his second meeting with the Congress in 24 hours, Uddhav Thackeray said the talks had started in the “right direction”.
“It will be announced to everyone at an appropriate time,” Thackeray told reporters as he stepped out of Hotel Trident in Bandra-Kurla Complex on Wednesday morning.
The Sena chief had yesterday laboured to underscore that the Sena’s proposed alliance with the Congress-NCP may take a little time since this was the first time that the three parties were trying to form the government. He had also referenced the divergent ideologies of the Sena and the Congress at his press conference but only to assert that it was possible for them to work together for what he promised, would be “a new beginning”.
The messaging done, Thackeray had headed straight to a meeting with Ahmed Patel at a hotel to formally discuss government formation. This was their first meeting between Thackeray and Patel; both had earlier spoken on the phone over the past few days.
Ahmed Patel, a key aide of the Congress president, was in Mumbai to hold talks with the NCP chief Sharad Pawar on supporting the Shiv Sena to form the government in Maharashtra.
Sena functionaries said that the two leaders discussed the formulation of a common minimum programme and power-sharing pact during their 45-minute discussion.
According to the Sena leader, Ahmed conveyed the Congress and NCP’s in-principle decision to support to the Sena lead the government.
“The portfolios could be divided equally in the three parties as Congress would be a part of the government. The common minimum programme has to be finalised soon,” said a party functionary.
At his media briefing, Uddhav Thackeray had said the Sena, just like the Congress and the NCP, also needed clarity on the Common Minimum Programme.
“The politics could be going in a new direction and it has already begun, people should wait for some time,” Thackeray had said.
Maharashtra was placed under central rule on Tuesday after governor BS Koshyari told the Centre that no party was in a position to form the government. The Sena had walked out of an alliance with the BJP after the combine won a clear majority in last month’s state elections. The divorce precedes a string of barbs that Sena leaders have hurled at the BJP.
That offensive continued on Wednesday as well. The Sena mouthpiece Saamna attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party, saying that if it had stuck to its promise to share the chief minister’s post, the situation wouldn’t have been so grave in the state.
The editorial in the Marathi newspaper says it expects criticism from all quarters on the party’s next steps for a coalition with a party from a different ideology, but cited Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir as examples of the BJP tying up with parties from the opposite side of the ideological divide to hold power.
The editorial defended the party’s decision to work towards brokering a power-sharing deal with the Congress and NCP, saying the party is prepared to do what it takes to form a stable government in the state.
“After partaking of elixir laced with a drop of poison with the Bharatiya Janata Party, we are now prepared to end the instability in Maharashtra by assuming the role of ‘Neelkanth’. To explain that in the language of Hindutva, Chhatrapati Shivaji worshipped Lord Shiva who consumed poison, and the Sena is devoted to Shivaji,” it said.