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|October 9, 1999||
Sangma's views spark confusion
Confusion prevailed in Maharashtra over the formation of a new government with Nationalist Congress Party general secretary Purno A Sangma's announcement last night about his party's decision not to support the Congress.
However, Maharashtra NCP president Chhagan Bhujbal said he has not received any information in this regard. He said the NCP had still kept its options open on extending support to the Congress provided the latter approached it to join hands for forming a new government.
However, replying to a question whether his party would support the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance as indicated by the party general secretary's statement, he said that everything is under consideration. ''No decision has been taken by the party to support the alliance,'' he said.
Bhujbal, who was the first to advocate that the two Congress parties should come together to keep the Sena-BJP alliance out of power, reiterated his view. He, however, expressed his displeasure over the Congress going ahead without formally approaching the NCP and staking its claim to form the government on its own.
Meanwhile, the Congress camp still appeared hopeful of succeeding in forming the next government with the support of the NCP, irrespective of Sangma's statement. The latter's views contradicted NCP president Sharad Pawar's statement about not ruling out his party's support to the Congress in order to keep the Sena-BJP alliance out.
The Sena-BJP leaders also claimed that they were in touch with the NCP. They were confident of securing the NCP's support ''since it has decided not to support the Congress''.
A senior Sena leader said that the party was confident of forming the government.
He said the newly elected Sena legislators will meet today to elect their new leader. He added that Chief Minister Narayan Rane will be re-elected as the group leader.
Rane will meet the governor this evening to stake his claim to form the next government on the ground that the alliance is the largest single group in the assembly, the leader said.
In the fractured verdict given by the election, no party has the required numbers in the state legislative assembly consisting of 288 members.
The Congress has already staked its claim yesterday on the ground that it was the single largest party. The Congress has 75 members and the NCP 58.
The NCP also enjoys the support of two members of the Samajwadi Party and six of the 12 independent members. However, the Peasants and Workers Party with five members is still undecided.
The Sena-BJP alliance has a total strength of 125 members and has the support of the other six independents. This leaves it still short of 14 members to reach the magic figure of 145.
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary in charge of Maharashtra Madhavrao Scindia is expected to arrive in Bombay today to oversee the political moves of the party to keep the Sena-BJP alliance out of power.
In another development, Sena chief Bal Thackeray, known for his dislike for NCP president Sharad Pawar, is against seeking any help from the NCP. However, the BJP has been making all-out efforts to woo the NCP.
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