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Sonia cautious on supporting Shiv Sena in Maharashtra

Sonia cautious on supporting Shiv Sena in Maharashtra

New Delhi: Before taking a final call over supporting the Shiv Sena to form the government in Maharashtra, a cautious Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Monday asked senior party leaders to again verify the party legislators's concerns before coming to a conclusion.

Gandhi, who held a crucial meeting with the senior party leaders at her residence here along with the Maharashtra Congress leaders for the second time during the day, also received a call from Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray, seeking her party's report.

At the meeting, she herself asked few of the Maharashtra leaders present as to what they want. She then tasked party General Secretary K.C. Venugopal to discuss with the party legislators to know their concerns before saying yes to the Shiv Sena and the NCP on forming the government in the state.

Former Maharashtra Chief Ministers Ashok Chavan, Prithiviraj Chavan, and Sushil Kumar Shinde, state unit chief Balasaheb Thorat, senior leader Vijay Wattediwar, Rajani Patil and others were present in the meeting at Gandhi's residence.

Besides the Maharashtra leaders, senior party leader Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and others were also present in the meeting.

The meeting comes in the wake of reports that majority of Congress MLAs of the state favoured supporting Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), as the Congress has to take a final call by Monday itself.

The Congress, which had won 44 out of the state's 288 seats in the October 21 Assembly polls, had shifted all its MLAs to Jaipur fearing poaching attempts.

Congress sources had earlier said that a decision of giving outside support or joining the government will be taken only after consultation with state leaders.

Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena's sole representative in the Union Cabinet, Arvind Sawant announced he would quit the government over the Maharashtra fallout. Accusing the BJP of backing out of its '50:50 formula' promise made to his party, he said allegations of not having any such talks "hurt the pride of the Thackeray family" and put a question mark on the continuance of the BJP-Sena alliance.

On Sunday, the BJP informed Governor B.S. Koshyari that it cannot form the government despite being the single largest party in the Assembly with 105 seats, and he then invited the Shiv Sena, being the second largest party to form the government.

The Shiv Sena, which won 56 out of the 288 seats in the state, had been insisting on the rotational chief ministership in the state which the BJP refused leading to the political crisis for the last fortnight in the state.

The senior leadership of the NCP, which bagged 54 seats, also had a meeting of the party's core committee to discuss government formation. After the core committee meeting, Pawar met the Sena chief and his son Aditya Thackeray at his residence to discuss the government formation. According to NCP sources, Pawar is set to call Gandhi after her meeting with the party leaders ends.


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