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Nov 18, 2019, 05.40 PM IST

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Congress holds key to 'non-BJP' govt formation in Maharashtra

The Shiv Sena is the second-largest party in the 288-member House with only 56 ...

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  • Some workers of the Shiv Sena, which recently snapped ties with the BJP, standing close to the former CM's convoy shouted in Marathi Fadnavis' assembly poll campaign slogan: 'I will be back (as CM)' along with the Sena's traditional 'Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki jai' war cry.

    The Shiv Sena on Monday suffered a setback in its efforts to cobble up a non-BJP government in Maharashtra with the Congress at the last moment announcing its decision to hold more talks with ally NCP on supporting the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.

    Uddhav Thackeray took a dig at Governor B S Koshyari over denial of more time to drum up support for government formation in the state, where President's rule was imposed on Tuesday evening. The Sena had failed to produce the required letters of support of the NCP and the Congress when it met the Governor on Monday night to stake a claim to form government.

    Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the governor should have invited his party to indicate "willingness and ability" to form government. Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde echoed a similar view, saying "once we have letters of support, the President's rule can be lifted".

    NCP, which is the third largest party in the state, got an invite from the governor, asking it to express "willingness and ability to form government". With 54 MLAs, the NCP is the third largest party after the BJP (105) and the Shiv Sena (56) in the 288-member House, where the halfway mark in 145. The Congress has 44 MLAs.

    Asked if the Congress has agreed to support the Shiv Sena to form the government, he said, "If that wasn't so, we would not have held prolonged discussions in Delhi yesterday." Chavan said the state Congress leaders will meet their NCP counterparts in Mumbai later in the day to discuss the process of government formation.

    Earlier it was announced that a Congress-NCP delegation would meet the governor, but Sena sources said their leaders too would join them. It triggered speculation that the meeting with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari could be for staking claim to form government, though leaders of the Shiv Sena and Congress maintained that it was only about farm distress.

    The press conference was attended by Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Veugopal, deputed by the party president Sonia Gandhi to hold further talks with the NCP on the issue.

    The lawmakers' letter to Shringla comes as the US on Thursday sought from India a "roadmap" to political and economic normalcy in Kashmir and immediate release of all political detainees.

    Appealing to non-BJP outfits to join hands with the Congress, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda assured them that they would be given due respect.

    Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, state BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel and National General Secretary in charge of Karnataka, P Muralidhar Rao were among those who welcomed them into the party fold. BJP that aims to win a majority of the 15 constituencies where bypolls will be held is likely to field most of them as the party candidates.

    The Shiv Sena was unable to procure letters of support from the NCP and the Congress by the deadline of 7.30 pm on Monday and the governor refused to grant it another 48 hours to prove its majority that it demanded to form a non-BJP government after severing ties with its pre-poll ally.

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