Sources said the offer involves making NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule a Union Cabinet minister.
Mumbai: As the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is engaged in talks with the Shiv Sena and the Congress over forming the government in Maharashtra, the BJP is also trying to woo the NCP with the offer of an equal share in the Maharashtra Cabinet and representation in the Union Cabinet. According to highly-placed sources, the BJP leadership in New Delhi has approached the NCP’s top leader with the offer. Interestingly, though Sharad Pawar’s party is in the process of finalising a “common minimum programme” for the Sena-NCP-Congress government, it has not rejected the BJP’s offer and kept its options still open.
According to sources, the unofficial talks between the BJP and the NCP are taking place at the highest levels in New Delhi.
“It seems the NCP has not completely shut its door for the BJP. Joining hands with the Shiv Sena is their Plan A, which entails accepting 33 per cent “power sharing” in the state, along with the deputy chief minister’s post. Plan B is to go with the BJP, which is offering two portfolios at the Centre and 50 per cent state Cabinet portfolios,” the source said.
Sources familiar with the development said the NCP is exploring all the possibilities to bargain as much as possible. Sources in the BJP, too, confirmed that talks are being held at the top level with the NCP in New Delhi. A source said the BJP is using senior NCP leader Praful Patel as a conduit for the negotiations.
“A proposal of power sharing has been sent to the NCP top brass through a conduit. The BJP has offered 50 per cent Cabinet berths along with two berths at the Centre,” the source added. The offer involves making NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule a Union Cabinet minister.
A senior BJP leader and former Cabinet minister, requesting anonymity, confirmed the development. Another BJP leader, requesting anonymity, said the NCP does not want to invite the wrath of the BJP by aligning with the Shiv Sena.
Sources also claimed the BJP leadership used Praful Patel to impose President’s Rule in Maharashtra on November 12. “As Prime Minister Narendra Modi was about to leave for Brazil to attend the Brics summit on Tuesday, the BJP asked Mr Patel to inform the governor about his party’s decision so that the governor could initiate further action,” the sources added. This ensured that the Centre could take a decision before the PM left the country.
The NCP’s decision to inform the governor way before the deadline given to them ended also raised eyebrows in the Congress party as Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi had deputed her close aide Ahmed Patel, Malikarjun Kharge, and K.C. Venugopal for talks with the NCP.
Sources in the Congress said the party was serious about aligning with the Shiv Sena. Sources said a formula had been chalked out, wherein the chief minister’s post would remain with the Sena, while the Congress and the NCP would get a deputy chief minister each.
State leaders of the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena met in Mumbai to finalise the draft of a “common minimum programme”, that will become the basis of government formation by the three parties. Shiv Sena leaders Subhash Desai and Eknath Shide, NCP leaders Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal and Nawab Malik participated in the deliberations, which was also attended by Congress’ Prithviraj Chavan, Manikrao Thakre and Vijay Vadettiwar.
“We have finalised the draft common minimum programme. It will be finalised after the top leadership of all three parties approve it,” Mr Vadettiwar said.
According to the sources, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and other senior party leaders will hold the next round of talks with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and others in New Delhi on Sunday.