Mumbai: A day after President's rule was imposed in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP have been able to take their discussions forward, with the broad contours of a common minimum programme falling in place.
At a time the optics are as important as the messaging, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray reached out to the Congress party, shedding his image of a political hermit who does not stir out of Matoshree.
Also, on a day of structured activity, the Congress party ferried its 44 MLAs from Jaipur to Mumbai; it also discussed with the NCP the nitty-gritty of the Common Minimum Programme. With that, the power-sharing talks have crossed the initial hump and moved into the state’s corridors.
The CMP is expected to be focussed on farmers, youth, women, migrants, labour and women. In other words, the Sena-led formulation will have a rural and pro-farmer face.
This is the best time to pay back the rural voters who had largely voted against the BJP, expressing their dissatisfaction with the BJP-led Fadnavis government.
A complete farm loan waiver will find a pre-eminent slot in the CMP. Apart from this, it has been proposed that an unemployment allowance be given to youths.
The NCP and the Congress have reservation for Muslims on the agenda. The Sena, if it wishes to re-invent itself as an inclusive umbrella party, may be persuaded to take up this demand.
The migrants from the Hindi belt, who have changed the demographic profile of Mumbai’s suburbs, had voted for the BJP in the last election. They, too, are on the troika’s agenda.
"We want to win their hearts and will chalk out schemes for their well-being," a senior leader involved in the preparation of the CMP said.
After the NCP and the Congress finalise the CMP, the representatives of the two parties will meet Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav. This meeting is expected as early as Wednesday night.
The NCP and the Congress are moving in tandem. Both have constituted a 5-member panel, which is a part of the joint committee formed for finalising the CMP.
NCP's panel comprises Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Nawab Malik and Dhananjay Munde; and the Congress panel includes Sushil Kumar Shinde, Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan Balasaheb Thorat and Manikrao Thakre.
Incidentally, Uddhav Thackeray had met Ahmed Patel on Tuesday night and discussed the details of the government formation. Later, in the afternoon on Wednesday, he walked over to a five star hotel at Nariman Point to meet state Congress leaders.
Thackeray held talks with Thorat, former chief minister Ashok Chavan and Manikrao Thakare. The talks were progressing in the "right direction," Uddhav said after the meeting. State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat described the meeting with Thackeray as a "courtesy call".
Sharad Pawar, in turn, had a meeting with NCP legislators and asked them to go and meet the farmers. "Fan out and use your authority as legislators. There will not be any mid-term poll," he told them.
The BJP, meanwhile, tried to needle the Sena. "It is for the Shiv Sena to figure out how its Hindutva agenda fits in the overall scheme of things,’’ BJP leader and Union minister Raosaheb Danve said.
On its part, the Saamana, the Sena mouthpiece, attacked the BJP in its editorial, saying that the latter was deriving a "sadistic pleasure" out of the struggle of the others to form a government.