Senior Congress Leaders Defer Over Mumbai Visit As NCP Struggles to Meet Deadline for Govt Formation

Senior Congress Leaders Defer Over Mumbai Visit As NCP Struggles to Meet Deadline for Govt Formation

Mumbai: Senior Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge, who were supposed to come to Mumbai on Tuesday to discuss modalities of support to the Shiv Sena for government formation in Maharashtra, have deferred their visit, a Congress leader said.

The two leaders postponed their visit after NCP chief Sharad Pawar conveyed that state leaders of both the parties will first discuss the "terms and conditions" of government formation, former Maharashtra Congress president Manikrao Thakare told PTI.

"The Maharashtra Congress leaders will discuss the broad contours of government formation with their NCP counterparts on Tuesday before inviting the Shiv Sena for

talks," he said.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday discussed the state's political situation with Pawar and accordingly, it was decided that the state NCP and Congress leaders "will discuss the terms and conditions and a 'common minimum programme' for government formation" later in the day, he said.

"The Shiv Sena leaders are likely to join the discussions after the Congress and NCP come to an agreement. Sharad Pawar has informed the Congress central leadership that he would come to Delhi and finalise details with them," Thakare said.

"Hence, AICC general secretaries Venugopal and Kharge, who were to come to Mumbai, deferred their visit," he said. Meanwhile, a senior NCP leader, on condition of

anonymity, said unless all the three parties - Congress, NCP and Sena - join the government, there would be no stability.

"Hence, we want that the Congress should be part of the government," the leader said.

The Shiv Sena on Monday suffered a setback in its efforts to cobble up a non-BJP government in Maharashtra with the Congress at the last moment announcing its decision to hold more talks with ally NCP on supporting the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.

While Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray said two parties (Congress and NCP) have agreed "in-principle" to support the Sena-led government, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari refused additional time sought by his party to muster numbers.

Later, the NCP, which is the third largest party in the state, got an invite from the governor, asking it to express "willingness and ability to form government" by 8.30 pm on Tuesday.

With 54 MLAs, the NCP is the third largest party after the BJP (105) and the Shiv Sena (56) in the 288-member House, where the halfway mark in 145. The Congress has 44 MLAs.