Maharashtra Government Formation: NCP-Congress Back Uddhav Thackeray As CM Under Maha Vikas Aghadi AllianceShiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray speaking at a rally.

After separate meetings of the Shiv Sena and the Congress, NCP and their smaller allies, a consensus has apparently emerged on Sena President Uddhav Thackeray's name for the post of Chief Minister, at Mumbai on Friday (22 November).

The Sena legislators met this morning and "unanimously authorized" Thackeray to take any decision on the question of CM.

"All the legislators have unanimously given full powers to Uddhav Thackeray to take any decision pertaining to the post of CM and the other government formation aspects," Sena leader Sunil Prabhu told mediapersons.

Similarly, after a meeting of the Congress-NCP with allies, a similar statement was made by Samajwadi Party President Abu Asim Azmi on the same question.

"Most leaders felt that Uddhav Thackeray should be the CM. However, we have left that decision to him and his party," Azmi said briefly to the media.

The top leaders of Sena, NCP and Congress are scheduled to have a meeting around 4 pm which would be decisive on the question of government formation.

Sources in the three parties indicate that if all goes well, they could stake their claim to form the government before Governor B S Koshyari even today, though the final call will be taken at the evening meeting.

Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the post of CM will be decided "very soon" and dismissed speculation in a section of media that he was the front-runner for the post.

To a question whether the Sena would return to the BJP fold if it was given the post of CM, Raut said: "This is now a fight for the dignity and self-respect of Maharashtra. Now, even if we are offered the throne of (Lord) Indra, we are not interested. That time has elapsed".

Raut also confirmed that it is the "genuine desire of all party legislators" that Thackeray should assume the post of CM, indirectly ruling out the possibility of any other contenders.

Meanwhile, top Congress leaders, including Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and others arrived in Mumbai this afternoon and are likely to attend the crucial meeting at 4 pm.

In a midnight rendezvous, NCP President Sharad Pawar, his daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar met for more than an hour with Thackeray, son Aditya and Raut.

After the meeting from which they emerged around 12.30 am today, the Thackerays were seen smiling and Raut gave the 'thumbs up' sign to the media indicating all was proceeding as planned for the proposed 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' government.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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