Many Congress MLAs Want To Back Sena To "Keep BJP Out": Leader

Sonia Gandhi, in discussions with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Monday, reportedly said a firm "no" to the idea of the Congress supporting the Shiv Sena.

Vijay Wadettiwar said that Congress top leadership will take a call on the matter.

New Delhi/Mumbai:

In the standoff between BJP and its ally Shiv Sena over power-sharing in Maharashtra, several newly-elected Congress MLAs favour supporting the Sena in government formation.

Some 30 MLAs have reportedly asked for Congress president Sonia Gandhi's permission to offer outside support to the Shiv Sena, should it try to form government without the BJP.

Sonia Gandhi, in discussions with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Monday, reportedly said a firm "no" to the idea of the Congress supporting the Shiv Sena.

This was apparently on Sharad Pawar's mind when he told the media yesterday that a BJP-Shiv Sena government is the only viable option in Maharashtra, and that his party and the Congress have the mandate to sit in opposition.

The BJP and the Shiv Sena should try to resolve their differences and form government instead of pushing the state into a constitutional crisis, the NCP chief said, in a message to the Sena, which had initiated talks with Mr Pawar.

With just a day to the deadline, the Sena says it is firm on a "50:50" partnership with the BJP, which means a Sena chief minister for half the term and an equal share in portfolios. The BJP has maintained that its Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will continue for a full term.

The Maharashtra assembly's term ends on Saturday, so a government has to be in place by tomorrow. If not, the options are President's rule, or the BJP forming a minority government. The BJP won 105 seats but says it now has the support of 115. The Shiv Sena won 56 but claims the support of 64 with independents. The NCP, Congress and others have 102 seats.

Despite their leadership's refusal, young Congress MLAs see the chance to keep the BJP out of power.

Newly-elected Congress MLAs do not want to see a BJP government in Maharashtra, party leader Vijay Namdevrao Wadettiwar said on Wednesday.

"All of our MLAs are of the view that BJP should not be allowed to form a government. The BJP-led coalition ran the government for the last five years. What happened in Maharashtra? 16,000 farmers committed suicide," Mr Wadettiwar told ANI after a meeting of the state Congress Core Committee.

On speculation that the Sena may form government with support from the NCP and Congress, Mr Wadettiwar told ANI: "We will mull over the proposal if we get any, but the final call will be taken by the central party leadership."

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