- Sharad Pawar said President's Rule has given them more time to negotiate
- NCP wants chief ministerial post on rotational basis, sources say
- Shiv Sena had fallen out with ally BJP over a similar demand by Sena
Despite the declaration of President's Rule in Maharashtra on Tuesday, the Shiv Sena is still in negotiations with the Congress and Sharad Pawar's NCP to work out a political coalition capable of governing the state. According to sources, among the conditions put forth by the NCP for joining such an alliance is a chance to share the Chief Minister's position with the Sena on a rotational basis if such a government is established.
Sources claim that the NCP wants a shot at the chief ministerial post too, given that it is just two seats short of the Shiv Sena's count of 56. Put together, the three parties would have 154 MLAs on its side -- safely beyond the halfway mark of 145.
It was over a similar demand that the Shiv Sena had fallen out with political ally BJP after the Maharashtra assembly elections last month.
Earlier on Tuesday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray denied claims that its ideological differences with the Congress and the NCP will result in an unstable coalition. "We are from different ideologies but we can come together," he told reporters earlier this evening. "The BJP and Shiv Sena were together for many years but now Shiv Sena has to go with the Congress-NCP. We'll hold further talks with both of them."
Several rounds of talks between the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress had reached a dead end on Monday. Faced a tough call over aligning with a party with a starkly contrasting ideology, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi insisted on taking things slow -- leading to the Governor inviting Sharad Pawar's Party to form the government. That option was exhausted too as the NCP asked for more time.
Uddhav Thackeray, who has already challenged the imposition of President's Rule in the Supreme Court, indicated that a Common Minimum Programme could be the way ahead. "We will hold discussions, and because we are from different ideologies, these discussions may take some time to come to a consensus," he said.
Sharad Pawar, however, seemed at ease at a joint press conference held with Congress leaders on Tuesday evening. "We are in no hurry as the Governor has given us enough time to discuss and decide," he said, referring to the decision to impose President's Rule in the state.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel claimed that it wouldn't be prudent to jump into an alliance with the Shiv Sena without getting a better picture of the situation. "First, we will negotiate (among ourselves). Once we have some clarity, we will talk to the Shiv Sena," he said.