The contours of a non-Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra emerged on Thursday, with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party reaching "complete unanimity" on the exercise and announcing they will hold talks with the Shiv Sena to finalise the "architecture" of the alliance.
Inching closer to form a government along with the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP will hold talks with pre-poll allies Peasants Workers Party, Samajwadi Party, Swabhimani Paksh and Communist Party of India-Marxist in Mumbai on Friday before parleys with the Sena, a Congress leader said.
For the better part of this week, the national capital was the centre of marathon meetings between top leaders of the NCP and the Congress to explore the possibility of forging an alliance with the Shiv Sena, a party whose ideology is poles apart from the duo.
"The NCP and the Congress have completed discussions on all issues. There is complete unanimity between the two parties on all the issues," former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters.
A decision will be taken on Friday on what the architecture of the alliance will be, Chavan said.
The final decision will be announced in Mumbai, he added.
The announcement of the common minimum programme will clarify details of the new government, Chavan said.
Results of the October 21 assembly polls were declared on October 24 and President's rule was imposed in the state on November 12 after no party or combine staked claim to form the new government.
Chavan said that only after all issues are discussed and cleared by the three parties, will the alliance move towards staking claim to form the government.
The Congress Working Committee after a detailed deliberation on the political situation in Maharashtra gave its approval to join hands with the Sena in the state, party sources said.
The CWC, the party's highest decision-making body, gave the nod during a meeting held to deliberate on the Maharashtra political scenario. The meeting was chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and was held at her 10, Janpath residence, the sources said.
After the meeting, Congress general secretary K C Venugopal told the media that the CWC was briefed about the party's discussions with the NCP on Wednesday.
NCP sources said the chief minister's post is most likely to be on a rotational basis, with the first half to be given to the Shiv Sena and the latter to the NCP.
The Congress is likely to have the deputy chief minister's post for the full five-year term, they said.
On Wednesday, the Congress-NCP alliance gave its most categorical indication about joining hands with arch rival Shiv Sena, with Chavan expressing confidence of forming a "stable" government soon in the state after a marathon meeting of senior leaders of the two parties in New Delhi.
Several top leaders of the two parties again met at NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence on Thursday afternoon to hammer out the common minimum programme of governance, sources said.
Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh and Mallikarjun Kharge, and NCP leaders Praful Patel, Supriya Sule, Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil and Nawab Malik were part of the meeting.
Sources said the three parties are likely to make a formal announcement on Friday to join hands to take a shot at power in the state.
The three parties are then likely to send separate letters to the Maharashtra governor mentioning their decision to come together to form a government, said a source.
Earlier, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut exuded confidence that the two parties, along with the Congress, will arrive at a decision on government formation in a day or two.
"In the interest of the state and its people, we want to run the government and that too for five years," he said.
The state was plunged into a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister's post.
The BJP and Sena, which fought the assembly polls in alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.
The Shiv Sena has called a meeting of all its MLAs and senior leaders in Mumbai on November 22, a party leader said.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will address the meeting which is expected to deliberate on the party's line of action in the backdrop of the three main non-BJP parties making efforts to form government in Maharashtra.