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Talks for Maharashtra government formation at preliminary stage: Prithviraj Chavan after meeting Uddhav Thackeray


MUMBAI: Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday said talks for government formation in Maharashtra were at a "preliminary" stage and no decision was taken so far.

The Congress and NCP on Wednesday deliberated at their respective party levels and later jointly to work out a 'common minimum program' (CMP) and power-sharing formula, the former state chief minister said.

Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan, and Manikrao Thakare also met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at a suburban hotel on Wednesday.

"The Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena have so far held preliminary talks. A meeting will again be held today between the Congress and NCP, and later both the parties are expected to hold talks with the Shiv Sena. There is no decision as yet," Prithviraj Chavan told PTI.

He said the details worked out will have to be approved by the Congress high command. Manikrao Thakare on Wednesday described their meeting with the Sena president as an effort to create an "amicable atmosphere" for further talks.

Thackeray, on his part, said talks were going on in the right direction.

The Sharad Pawar-led NCP has also named five of its members who will be part of a joint committee to be formed with the Congress for deciding the CMP before a possible alliance with the Shiv Sena.

The NCP's panel comprises Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Nawab Malik and Dhananjay Munde. Patil, who is the state NCP chief, said the power-sharing formula was not being discussed as yet.

The Shiv Sena formally sought the support of the Congress and NCP on Monday to form government in the state. Senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and KC Venugopal were subsequently deputed by party president Sonia Gandhi to hold talks with the NCP and evolve a consensus on what should be the policies and programs if the Shiv Sena was to be supported.

President's rule was imposed in the state on Tuesday after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari sent a report to the Centre, stating that the formation of a stable government was impossible in the current situation despite all his efforts.

The BJP and Shiv Sena, which fought the October 21 state elections in an alliance, secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly.

But the BJP did not cede Sena's demand of sharing the chief minister's post, leading to falling apart of the nearly three-decade-old alliance. Congress and NCP won 44 and 54 seats, respectively, in the last month's polls.

Ab haarna aur darna manaa hai: Raut Tweets

Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday posted a message on Twitter to assert that they would neither get defeated nor be afraid.

"Ab haarna aur darna manaa hai," the Rajya Sabha member and Sena's spokesman tweeted, a day after he was discharged from the city-based Lilavati Hospital, where he underwent an angioplasty procedure on Monday.

The 57-year-old firebrand Sena leader also tweeted a motivational Hindi couplet, saying, "Haar ho jaati hai jab maan liya jaata hai, jeet tab hoti hai jab thaan liya jaata hai" (defeat happens when one accepts it, victory happens when one is determined).

Raut on Wednesday also posted a message on Twitter to indicate tough path ahead for his party in its efforts to form government in Maharashtra with the Congress and NCP, which were its ideological rivals till recently.

He has of late also been hitting out at the BJP through his Twitter posts.

After the Assembly poll results in Maharashtra were declared on October 24, Raut led Sena's charge to seek an equal share in power with the BJP, leading to falling apart of the nearly three-decade-old saffron alliance.

The Shiv Sena, which espouses the Hindutva ideology, is trying to find common ground with the Congress and NCP in its attempt to cobble-up a government in Maharashtra, which is under President's rule since Tuesday.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday met Maharashtra Congress leaders Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat, and Manikrao Thakare and later said talks were going on in the right direction.