- Ajit Pawar stopped short of blaming ally Congress for "delay"
- "Whatever be the decision, there should be stability," Ajit Pawar said
- The Congress is extremely reluctant to back the Shiv Sena
Hours before the Union Cabinet recommended President's Rule in Maharashtra, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar stopped short of blaming ally Congress for the "delay" in deciding on whether to support the Shiv Sena in a non-BJP government in Maharashtra.
Sources say his uncle, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, is upset with the Congress.
The Congress held off on sending its leaders to Mumbai this morning, asking Sharad Pawar to come to Delhi instead and speak to its chief Sonia Gandhi. But the NCP chief declined, citing a meeting with his party MLAs, and the two then spoke on the phone.
Earlier, top Congress leader Ahmed Patel also reportedly spoke to Mr Pawar to discuss possibilities of government formation.
Ahead of its meeting with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari last evening, the Shiv Sena did not have letters of support from the Congress. The NCP, which had agreed to support the Sena, was left holding on to its letter of support.
"We (NCP) waited for their (Congress) letter yesterday. But we did not receive the letter by the evening. It was not right for us to give the letter. Whatever be the decision, there should be stability," Ajit Pawar told reporters.
"From morning 10 am till 7:30 pm on Monday, our leaders including Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel were waiting for their letter. They (Shiv Sena) had to submit the letter till 7:30 pm. If Congress was not sending its letter of support, how could we give ours," Ajit Pawar disclosed.
A Shiv Sena delegation led by Aaditya Thackeray finally went sans the 145 letters of support, and requested the Governor for three more days, but it was rejected.
The Congress is extremely reluctant to back the Shiv Sena, given the severe ideological mismatch and the fact that the two parties fought bitterly as rivals in Mumbai and other parts of the state in the polls.
Asked whether he was blaming the Congress for the hold-up, Ajit Pawar replied: "We fought elections together. That's why we should make the decision together. The Congress is taking its time to decide because it didn't contest with the Shiv Sena. The Congress and NCP contested together."
The NCP held meetings today too.
"We will make the decision and likewise the Congress should also take the decision," he said.
But the Congress said Sharad Pawar also asked for more time and discussions on power-sharing with the Sena, pointing to Sonia Gandhi that his party was "just two seats behind" the Sena.
"There's no issue of Congress being late. We have been alert since beginning. We had asked them (NCP) if they have sent a letter (to Governor). Things will have to be done simultaneously, they are our partner. Whatever decision is taken, it'll be done together," said Congress's Sushilkumar Shinde.
The Governor last evening asked the NCP, which finished third in last month's Maharashtra polls, to form the government after the BJP and the Sena failed to stake claim to power.
The NCP has made it clear it will not take any decision without its ally Congress, as a Shiv Sena-led government cannot be stable without its support. The NCP has 54 MLAs in the 288-member assembly while the Congress has 44.
After a day of discussions, the Congress said in a statement that it would hold further consultations with the NCP.
The BJP, which emerged as the largest party in Maharashtra with 105 seats, declined to form the government after a breakdown of ties with the Shiv Sena over its demand for rotational chief ministership.
The Shiv Sena, which has 56 MLAs, believes it can form a stable government with support from the NCP and Congress.