Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar will meet on Monday to discuss the government formation in Maharashtra. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik made the announcement on Sunday evening after a meeting of the party's core committee.
The meeting between Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi was supposed to happen on Friday but was postponed to Monday. In the meeting, the two leaders are expected to discuss their alliance with the Shiv Sena for the government formation in Maharashtra.
Allies Congress and NCP have already worked out a common minimum programme (CMP) with the Sena for the government. Sources in the Congress and NCP said the draft CMP and allocation of portfolios between the three parties will be discussed in the meeting.
After the meeting at Sharad Pawar's residence in Pune, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the core committee was of the view that the current President's rule in Maharashtra should end, and an "alternative government" should be formed.
Nawab Malik said the final decision on the government formation would be taken on Tuesday when leaders of both the parties meet.
The NCP is in talks with its ally Congress for a possible alliance with the Shiv Sena after the Uddhav Thackeray-led party's alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fell apart over the chief minister's post.
"Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi will meet on Monday and discuss the possibility of formation of an alternative government in Maharashtra," he said, adding, "On Tuesday, other leaders from the NCP and Congress will meet and discuss the future course of action."
"We have decided that the next decision will be taken only after a discussion with Congress. Tomorrow [Monday] Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and [Sharad] Pawar Sahab will hold a meeting and day after tomorrow [Tuesday], leaders of both the parties will meet," Nawab Malik said.
Meanwhile, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that Congress is trying to figure out whether the three parties -- Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP -- can be together or not.
"We are trying to figure out whether Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP can come together. There is a meeting tomorrow between the leaders of Shiv Sena and leaders of the Congress. We will find out on Monday if we can go ahead or not," Prithviraj Chavan was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Even as the Congress and the NCP are yet to take a decision on whether they would support the Shiv Sena or not, the Sena has exuded the confidence of forming the government in Maharashtra, claiming to prove majority on the floor of the House with "170 MLAs".
Claiming to have the support of 170 MLAs, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, "We [Shiv Sena] will show the strength on the floor of House. We will be having the support of 170 MLAs. The Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra would run for five years and the support of the 170 MLAs will be seen [in the Assembly]."
The Shiv Sena leader also said the common minimum program between the three parties - Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP - has been discussed. "We are still talking and all the information is being shared with us [Shiv Sena]."