Cong, NCP sink differences for
the sake of a 'stable alternative'
For the first time after counting ended in Maharashtra last week, the Congress and the Nationalist
Congress Party today spoke in one voice. After days of haggling over the chief minister's post and
some key portfolios, top leaders of both the parties agreed that ''most of the problems had been
This reconciliation clearly had less to do with the several rounds of talks the two parties had with
each other and more with Governor P C Alexander's ultimatum that the party desirous of forming the
government must submit a list of its MLAs by tomorrow afternoon.
The governor today held two separate meetings with the Sena-BJP
combine and the Congress at Raj Bhavan where he told them that he had time only till October 18 to
scrutinise claims of government formation. After that he may have to initiate the process of
imposition of President's Rule in the state. The new assembly must come into being before October
Within hours of the twin meetings, contours of a new government had begun emerging.
Speaking at a press conference in the evening, Sharad Pawar, the Nationalist Congress Party
president, said his party had by and large agreed to the power-sharing formula offered by the
Congress. However, he added, that there were minor differences which need to be looked into.
Congress state unit president Prataprao Bhosale had used more or less the same language in the
morning when he spoke to reporters after his meeting with the governor. He had said that the
differences over sharing of portfolios had been ironed out and that an offer letter had been sent to
Pawar confirmed that his party had received the letter, studied its contents and sent a reply. "The
state needs a stable government and we do not mind joining hands with the Congress party to
achieve this. But they should accept our demands mentioned in our reply to their offer letter."
Pawar, however, refused to elaborate what these demands were and said his party was willing to sit
in the opposition if these demands were not met.
The former defence minister also clarified that his party would, under no circumstances, join hands
with the Sena-BJP in the state.
Asked whether Vilasrao Deshmukh (his bete noir) would be acceptable to him as the new chief
minister, he said: "We don't mind any person to be the chief minister of Maharashtra. It is up to the
Congress party to decide about their chief ministerial candidate. We have agreed that the new chief
minister is going to be their candidate."
When a reporter pointed out that the NCP general secretary, P A Sangma, had time and again said
that joining hands with the Congress in Maharashtra would be a mistake, Pawar said: "I have
spoken to Sangma about this issue and explained to him the ground realities. He now appreciates
Narayan Rane stakes claim to form government
Tell us what you think of this report