- Sonia Gandhi had a meeting with Sharad Pawar on Monday
- Mr Pawar spoke of another having meeting in the near future
- Shiv Sena has hinted of forming government with NCP, Congress
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has ruled out any support to Shiv Sena for a new power alignment in Maharashtra, sources told NDTV, negating the latter's leverage over ally BJP. Mrs Gandhi had a meeting on Monday evening with the party's Maharashtra ally Sharad Pawar, said to be in favour of such an alliance to block the BJP from coming to power in the state. While nothing was said about what transpired at the meeting, Mr Pawar spoke of another having meeting in the near future, indicating that Monday's discussions did not have a favourable outcome.
The Shiv Sena, engaged in a tussle with the BJP over the Chief Minister's post, has been hinting that it is ready to form government with Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress. Senior party leader Sanjay Raut even met the Governor on Monday, during which, he said, they discussed the political situation in the state.
The Sena is also understood to have sent out feelers to the NCP. Mr Raut had earlier met Sharad Pawar, though he later said it was a courtesy call after Diwali. On Sunday, Mr Pawar's nephew and senior party leader Ajit Pawar said Mr Raut had also reached out to him.
Later in the evening, sources in the Congress said Sonia Gandhi has entirely ruled out any dealing with Sena, though a section of the party's state leaders are said to be in favour of it. She has given a "polite political no" to Mr Pawar's suggestions, sources said.
After the meeting, Mr Pawar told reporters that Sena-BJP tussle was their "internal matter" and that the Sena has not given him "any assurance". But he also admitted that he does not have the numbers to "be in the government" and that he was ready to sit in the opposition.
About his visit, he said the Congress and the NCP leaders had "discussed the way ahead, and it was decided to brief leadership in Delhi... My visit was in this regard".
The term of the Maharashtra assembly ends on November 8 and unless a new government is formed before that, President's Rule can be declared in the state.
"Whoever has the mandate, will form the government. I cannot advise Governor. He will take his own decision," Mr Raut said today.