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|October 9, 1999||
'The Congress leaders have lost their mind'
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
The Nationalist Congress Party will not support the Indian National Congress in Maharashtra to form a new government.
The categorical denial comes from NCP general secretary P A Sangma. "I think the Congress leaders have lost their balance of mind. How can they rush to the governor like this? When you say that some other party is supporting you, then you have to take the leader of that party along with you. The NCP has not even elected its leader of the assembly as yet," he said.
Sangma emphasised the Sarkaria Commission report that has been accepted by all states. "There are rules and regulations laid down about the formation of a government when there is a fractured verdict. The governor has to first invite the pre-poll alliance parties. If they fail to form the government, the single largest party should be asked to explore the possibility. Then other options can be explored. Since the Shiv Sena-BJP pre-poll alliance has more MLAs, they would automatically be invited to form the government," he said.
He laughed at a report that said the NCP was willing to go along with the BJP. "What I had told the reporter was that there is no question of joining hands with the Congress. I think the lady reporter drew her own conclusion and went ahead with the story. It is true the BJP leaders like Advani are in touch with us. But nothing has been worked out so far," he said.
According to Sangma, NCP chief Sharad Pawar was personally handling the Maharashtra situation.
Asked if there was any deal with the BJP to install an NCP chief minister in Maharashtra and, in turn, support the National Democratic Alliance government at the centre, Sangma refused comment. He also refused to confirm or deny whether the BJP had offered to make Pawar the deputy prime minister or Sangma the Lok Sabha Speaker in return for the support to the NDA.
Sangma felt the new government would be more stable and would last the full term. "People are sick of elections and they want the new government to complete its term in office," he explained.
He felt there would be a major realignment of political forces in the next one week because of the Congress's poor show. "When the Congress under the leadership of [P V Narasimha] Rao got less then 150 seats there was a demand that he should step down and he resigned. When the Congress got 141 under Sitaram Kesari even he had to resign. Now that the party has got just 111 under Sonia Gandhi, why should she not resign?
"Already there are murmurs in the party. Some senior party leaders have been in touch with us. You should wait and watch what happens next," he said.
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