The Congress on Monday summoned its Maharashtra leaders to Delhi to take a decision on whether it should support the Shiv Sena in forming a government in the state.
"We have called our Maharashtra leaders to Delhi for further discussions, the meeting will be at 4 pm," AICC general secretary in-charge for Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) met in Delhi in the morning and will meet again at 4pm.
Party president Sonia Gandhi chaired the meeting of the top leaders of her party at her residence, reports said, amid indications that the legislators were not in favour of fresh elections in the state.
The CWC is the highest decision-making body of the Congress. Hectic deliberations about the possibility of the Congress participating in government formation in Maharashtra started on Sunday after its long-time political adversary Shiv Sena was invited to form the government by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. He did so after the BJP announced it would not form government in the state.
The Sena is the second largest party in the 288-member House with only 56 MLAs after the BJP (105). Given the stalemate between the two alliance partners, the role of the Congress with its 44 legislators and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with 54 MLAs is crucial. The Shiv Sena has time till 7.30 pm on Monday to stake claim.
Reports said the NCP chief Sharad Pawar may also meet Sonia Gandhi on Monday to discuss the possibility of the two parties supporting a Sena-led government.
Kharge had earlier said in Jaipur that his party has "accepted" the public mandate to it to sit in the opposition in the state.
"Now it is for the party high command to take a decision, we have left it to the party's high command,” he asserted.
“There are some statements, some talking about support to Shiv Sena and some are denying but there is no fact in such statements. The Congress party's stand is that we have to go with the public mandate and the Congress and NCP have to sit in the opposition,” he told reporters.
In Maharashtra, the Pawar-led party said the Sena will have to walk out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance first to discuss having its support.
Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Monday said there was no point in continuing its alliance with the BJP if it was not willing to fulfil its promise of sharing the chief minister's post in Maharashtra.
Reaching out to the opposition parties, Raut said the Congress and the NCP should bury their internal differences to come up with a 'common minimum programme' in the interest of Maharashtra.
(With inputs from PTI)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine