National Congress party general secretary Ahmed Patel (L) speaks as party president Sharad Pawar (R) looks on during a press conference in Mumbai on November 12, 2019. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)
National Congress party general secretary Ahmed Patel (L) speaks as party president Sharad Pawar (R) looks on during a press conference in Mumbai on November 12, 2019. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)

Mumbai: Ironies of ironies. The imposition of President’s rule has kick started the process of government formation. The momentum was apparent when the NCP, the Congress and the Shiv Sena indicated, for the first time, that they are all on board and carrying forward their discussions.

The Congress is joining the government and will be part of the cabinet, too, sources said.

According to highly placed sources, all three parties have agreed in principle to form the government; the Sena will also formally join the United Progressive Alliance led by the Congress.

It has been proposed that the CM post will be rotated – it will be with the Sena for the first 2.5 years; the NCP will keep it in the second half.

The cabinet berths are expected to be shared as per party strength. The Congress has demanded one ministerial post for 4 legislators. Since it has 44 MLAs, it will get 11 berths in the cabinet. Out of these, 6 may be cabinet ministers and 5 ministers of state.

The Shiv Sena, along with the plum CM post, may pocket 16 to 17 berths in the ministry; the NCP may get 14 to 15. There is also a strong possibility of two Deputy Chief Ministers, to ensure equitable power-sharing.

If all goes according to plan, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray may be the next CM and Ajit Pawar and Balasaheb Thorat can be the deputy CMs. At the same time, the NCP or the Congress may get the all-important Speaker's post.

‘‘The key portfolios will be divided after a detailed discussion," said a senior leader. The plum portfolios are Home, Urban Development, Finance, Power, Revenue and Public Works.’’

On Monday, the Shiv Sena was asked by the Governor to submit letters of support. But the Congress and the NCP kept the Sena on hold. This ignited speculation that Shiv Sena had been outfoxed and pushed to the wall. Also, it was suggested that the Congress was not ready to join the government.

Initially, the Congress was not ready to play along. But pressure of its MLAs and the fear of a split in its ranks forced the high command to rethink upon the issue. Later, they showed readiness to support the government from outside.

"But the NCP chief Sharad Pawar insisted that the Congress should join the cabinet. This will ensure longevity and stability of the government. The Congress, after much dilly-dallying, finally agreed to join the cabinet," said a senior NCP leader.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi had sent her senior-most leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel and KC Venugopal to discuss the issue of government formation with Pawar, the architect of this alliance.

“Maharashtra needs a stable government, more than power-sharing; we need to prioritize the important issues on which the government is going to work,” said Pawar. The NCP chief also revealed that Uddhav formally approached him in the matter of government formation only on Monday.

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