14 November 2019
New Delhi: The Congress, which is in talks with its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over government formation in Maharashtra, is treading cautiously in preparing the common minimum programme (CMP) before committing to the Shiv Sena and wants the latter to shed its Hindutva ideology and take a secular stand.
According to Congress sources, the party is in discussions with NCP over the CMP to form a government in the state, where President's rule was imposed on Monday and the assembly put under suspended animation.
Before committing to the Shiv Sena, the party first wants to discuss all the points of the CMP with the NCP, a Congress source said.
He said that NCP chief Sharad Pawar is all set to meet Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on the weekend to discuss the matter.
He also said that the Congress will look at every aspect, on whether to support government formation in the state from inside or give outside support.
According to the source, if the Congress becomes the part of the government then it will also discuss the cabinet berths for the party.
He, however, refused to give any time frame for government formation and said that, at this juncture, it would be very "hypothetical" to comment when a government could be formed in Mumbai.
The source further said that the Congress will also study the Shiv Sena's manifesto, and what they have promised to the people of the state.
"If the Congress supports the Shiv Sena in the state for the government formation, then it will also ask the party to shed their strong Hindutva ideology and take the secular stand on several issues," he said.
In the October 21 assembly elections, the BJP won 105 out of 288 seats, while its pre-poll alliance partner Shiv Sena won 56 seats. However, the allies fell out after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackarey demanded that the Chief Minister's post be rotated, which was unacceptable to the BJP.
The Congress source further said that senior leader Ahmed Patel, who along with Mallikarjun Kharge and K.C. Venugopal met Pawar in Mumbai on Tuesday, will submit the report of their talks to Sonia Gandhi.
Asked if Sonia Gandhi had spoken to party MLAs, who were stationed in the Rajasthan capital Jaipur to avoid poaching, he replied: "She did not call any party MLAs to discuss the issue."
Following the imposing of President's rule in Maharashtra, the Congress and the NCP are holding series of meetings to decide on supporting the Shiv Sena to form a government.
The Congress and the NCP, which contested the elections together, have won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.