Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar on Friday said that Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray has been unanimously picked to lead the Maharashtra government.
Emerging from a marathon meeting of top leaders of the Congress, the NCP and the Sena, who are making efforts to form government in Maharashtra, Pawar said there was a consensus on Thackeray's leadership.
"There is a consensus that leadership of the government will be with Uddhav Thackeray," he told reporters after the meeting. He said the meeting at Nehru Centre in central Mumbai deliberated extensively on finalising an agenda for governance.
Coming out of the meeting, Uddhav Thackeray told reporters that the talks were satisfactory. "We will end the discussions soon and come before media," he added.
Results of the October 21 Assembly polls were declared on October 24 and President's rule was imposed in the state on November 12 after no party or combine staked claim to form the new government.
The state was plunged into a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister's post.
The BJP and Sena, which fought the Assembly polls in the alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said his party won't side with the BJP even if offered Lord Indra's throne. Talking to reporters, Raut reiterated that his party will get the Maharashtra CM's post when the three-party alliance with Congress and NCP assumes power.
"The time for offers has ended," Raut said, When asked about reports that the BJP had agreed to share the CM's post with the Sena. "People of Maharashtra want Uddhav Thackeray to become the CM," he said.
Uddhav Thackeray on Friday met his party's legislators and told them that the process to form a Sena-led dispensation in the state was in the final stages. Thackeray instructed the Sena MLAs to stay together in Mumbai as they may be required any time, a party MLA said.
Earlier on Friday, the Congress and NCP said their smaller allies have backed the idea of forming a government in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena to keep its estranged ally BJP out of power in the state.
Congress and NCP representatives held a meeting with their pre-poll allies here, which was attended by leaders of the Samajwadi Party, the RPI (Kawade faction), the RPI (Kharat faction), Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha, the Peasants and Workers' Party (PWP), the CPI(M), the Janata Dal and others.
"Our pre-poll allies supported the idea of forming a government with the Sena to keep the BJP away from power," state NCP chief Jayant Patil told reporters after the meeting. Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the alliance partners have prepared a draft Common Minimum Programme (CMP), which is to be cleared by top leaders of the three parties.
"The final CMP will guide the actions of the proposed government," the Congress leader said. Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi made a pitch for ending communalism in the country.
"The Shiv Sena will have to tweak some of its policies if it wants our support...we will have to form the government to obliterate communalism," he said, adding the prospective government should be fair to Dalits, minorities, farmers and the weak.
Terming the alliance among Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress as opportunistic, senior BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari said that even if they formed the government in Maharashtra, it will not last beyond six to eight months.
In an interview to PTI, he said the alliance forged by these "ideologically different" parties was just to keep the BJP out of power, which was unfortunate. The state is going to five-phased polls from November 30.
"Opportunism is the base of their alliance. The three parties have become united with the only motto to keep the BJP out of power. I have doubts about whether this government will be formed... Even if it is formed, it will not last beyond six to eight months, Gadkari said.
(With inputs from PTI)
First Published: IST