Government formation in last lap, NCP-Congress to talk power-sharing with Shiv Sena today

NEW DELHI/ MUMBAI: With NCP and Congress scheduled to hold talks with Shiv Sena on Friday, permutations of the likely power-sharing arrangement are being keenly discussed with regard to a “rotational” chief ministership—shared between Sena and NCP—as well as deputy CMs and portfolio distribution.
The issue of a split term for the CMs post is expected to be taken up with the Sena, which might not be keen on the idea, seeking an unencumbered tenure for its chief Uddhav Thackeray. But the demand will be taken up with Congress backing NCPs claim for the second shot at the top job in Mantralaya on the ground that with 54 MLAs, Sharad Pawars party is almost on a par with Senas 56.
NCP and Congress are also likely to insist that Uddhav himself takes the helm, rather than replicating the arrangement where his father and founder-chief of Sena, Balasaheb, preferred to run the affairs through remote-controlled proxies Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane. “Uddhavs leadership will help stabilise the coalition,” said a source familiar with the deliberations in Delhi.
An NCP leader told TOI the three-party coalition, which has been named Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi, is likely to stake claim for formation of government on Friday or Saturday and would like the new government to be sworn in on Monday. Sources said if NCP does not insist on sharing the CMs post, Congress and NCP will each get their own deputy chief minister.
NCP has its own inner dynamics to sort out, considering that its deputy CM nominee will be the putative CM too. By current indications, Sharad Pawar is likely to nominate nephew Ajit Pawar for the pecking order. Pawars daughter Supriya Sule is seen as a contender for her fathers political mantle too, having won three Lok Sabha elections.
Yet marathon discussions over last two days were not limited to hammering out a “common minimum programme” to steer the coalition government but also the modalities of power-sharing, including distribution, among allies, of portfolios and corporations falling under various departments. The formula seems to be a 16-15-12 split of ministerial berths among Sena, NCP and Congress.
With a three-party alliance under discussion, there are no precedents as might have been the case with an NCP-Congress coalition. Some discussion on distribution of ministries has taken place with regard to departments like home, revenue, finance, PWD and housing and urban affairs. These berths could be bargaining chips once the nitty-gritty of government formation is discussed.
It is felt that should Sena remain opposed to a split term—ironically the demand over which it fell out with BJP—NCP and Congress could in turn bargain for key portfolios. Some leaders familiar with the discussions said non-Sena nominees for home and finance or revenue could be on the cards. In the past, deputy CMs, both in Congress-NCP and Sena-BJP regimes, have held the home portfolio.
Sources said the announcement of a final agreement between the three parties could come in the next couple of days. While discussions are likely to be concluded expeditiously, formalities like collecting signatures of all MLAs by summoning them to Mumbai may require time. Also, governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari is likely to be in the national capital for two days for a “governors conference”.
After a final round of talks at Pawars residence, former CM and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “NCP and Congress have completed discussions. There is complete unanimity on all issues. Decision will be taken tomorrow on what the architecture of the alliance will be after talks with Sena.” Talks with smaller allies PWP, Samajwadi Party and Swabhimani Paksha will also be held. Chavan is tipped for the speakers post.
Interestingly, while the first formal discussion with Sena will be held on Friday, NCP-Congress regularly consulted Thackerays outfit during the last two days. As if performing the last formalities ahead of formalising the political deal, the Read More – Source