Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar's intriguing response to questions by media this morning, hours before his scheduled meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi to finalise the broad contours of a proposed three-party coalition government in Maharashtra, has triggered feverish speculations in political circles.
When queried about Shiv Sena’s claims that it was in talks with the NCP to form the next government in Maharashtra, Pawar countered, "Really?"
"Do you think the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government will happen?" Pawar was asked by reporters in Delhi.
"Shiv Sena-BJP contested separately, NCP-Congress contested separately, how can you say that? They (BJP-Sena) have to find their own way. We will do our own politics," Pawar responded setting tongues wagging in the political circles.
When reporters responded by asking "But Shiv Sena is saying we will make a government along with Pawar Saheb...?", Pawar was cryptic in his response, "Accha? (Really?)"
Shivsena-NCP-Congress alliance government was almost considered a done deal with even Pawar on record as late as last Friday saying that the three parties would join forces and form a government that would last a full term.
Several media reports hinted that Congress scion Rahul Gandhi fiercely opposed to any tie-up with Shiv Sena, which has fashioned itself as a hardcore Hindutva outfit. The proposed alliance is also said to be opposed by members of Kerala Congress. However the Maharashtra unit of Congress has been forcefully advocating the tie-up, arguing it was an imperative to keep the BJP out in India’s economic powerhouse state.
After BJP refused to appease Sena’s demand for rotational CM and decided against bidding for power, Pawar emerged as a pivotal player in the government formation moves.
Given NCP supremo’s evening meeting with Sonia Gandhi was expected to formalise the process of forming a government in Maharashtra, his baffling remarks have further heightened the uncertainty over the government formation
Reports have emerged that Pawar is under pressure from a section of NCP leadership including Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel not to broker the alliance. However most informed political observers suggest that NCP chief’s remarks was just a posturing aimed at extracting a better bargain with Shiv Sena. While NCP has already agreed to concede Chief Minister's post to the Shiv Sena, the party may be eyeing lucrative portfolios in the new government.
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