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After meeting Sonia, Pawar mum on coalition

After meeting Sonia, Pawar mum on coalition

New Delhi, November 18

Talks between Congress and the Nationalist Congress party over the political situation in Maharashtra would continue, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Monday after a meeting he held with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Pawar, a veteran politician, said at a press conference that the two parties were “keeping a watch on the situation”.

“We will take opinions of senior leaders of both parties, and then take a decision on what will happen,” Pawar said, giving nothing away.

“Some of our allies are not happy about what they have been reading in news reports. We have other allies. We can’t ignore them or their opinion. If we fight as an alliance, we have to take their opinion,” he said.

When asked about the reported hurdles over talks with the Sena, he said that the meeting was not about Sena or government formation.

“This was a meeting of allies. Congress-NCP fought together last election. If we have to take a view, we need to discuss within our alliance first,” he said.

When a reporter persisted, asking if he knew what apprehensions Sonia Gandhi had with an alliance with the Sena, Pawar said: “We didn’t talk about government formation. We spoke about our alliance”.

When asked if there was a time limit, he said: “We have six months”.

Asked about Sena’s claims that it had the support of 170 MLAs, including those from Congress and the NCP, he said he didn’t know where it got the numbers from.

“You should ask them,” he said.

He was also asked about rumours of a possible alliance with the BJP. He retorted: “Then whom did we fight the elections against?”

He denied claims about there being any coordination committee meetings, and said that the meetings were not about a common minimum programme.

As to he made of central government’s decision to seat the Sena with the opposition, he said it had nothing to do with him.

“You should ask them,” he said again.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also said in a statement that talks were still ongoing.

"Sharad Pawar met the Congress President today and briefed her on the situation in Maharashtra. It was decided that in a day or two, representatives from NCP and Congress will meet in Delhi to discuss the way forward," he said in a tweet.

The meeting took place at Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence and lasted 50 minutes.

Pawar also spoke to reporters before Winter Session of Parliament began on Monday, telling them that all political parties that want to stake claim in forming government in Maharashtra must “choose their path”.

“The BJP and the Shiv Sena fought together, we (the NCP) and the Congress fought together. They have to choose their path and we will do our politics,” he told reporters.

Then Pawar was asked about Sena's claims that they would form government with NCP's support. He replied with a mysterious smile: "Really?"

Maharashtra has yet to have a state government in place a month after Assembly elections.

Former allies Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena could not find common ground over the chief minister’s position—Sena claimed it was promised a turn at the chair but BJP denied making any such promises.

After talks broke down, Sena turned to former rivals NCP and Congress for support to form government.Talks are still ongoing.

Leaders of Congress and NCP have had several meetings over the past few days to hammer out details of such a Sena-led government in Maharashtra.

Meanwhile, continued political uncertainty led Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to recommend President’s Rule last week. The development meant that the last assembly, whose term would have originally ended on November 9, is now in suspended animation.

The saffron alliance had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.

Pre-poll allies Congress and NCP won 44 and 54 seats, respectively. Agencies

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