India

Maharashtra govt formation: Cong to drive hard bargain in power-sharing with NCP, Sena

Maharashtra govt formation: Cong to drive hard bargain in power-sharing with NCP, Sena

The Congress is planning to drive a hard bargain in power-sharing talks between the three parties seeking an equitable distribution of portfolios and has set up independent lines of communication with the Shiv Sena.

A delegation of state Congress leaders including Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat and Manikrao Thakre met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in a five-star hotel in suburban Mumbai. This was Thackeray’s first interaction with state Congress leaders after the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly poll results.

With the NCP not present at this meeting, The Indian Express learnt that the two parties discussed the post of Speaker in the event that the three form the government. Key to the functioning of the Assembly, the post of Speaker, vested with the powers under the anti-defection law to expel MLAs, emerged as an important element in the bargaining. The Congress will push hard for the post to be given to it, a source in the party said.

While the NCP has not yet staked claim to the post, the Congress and Sena seem to have reached an understanding to ensure that Pawar’s party does not get it.

Most senior leaders in the Maharashtra Congress are agreed that the party should insist on an equitable sharing of portfolios if the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena come together to form the government.

“We will be insisting on an equitable distribution of power between the three parties. Who has how many MLAs does not matter in this situation as we believe all of us are at an even keel and the government can be formed only if all three of us come together,” a senior Congress leader said.

Congress sources have said that the party is likely to push for a one-third each power-sharing formula, which means 42 Cabinet berths will be divided equally between the three partners, giving 14 ministerial berths to each.