Form govt or Congress will be finished in Maharashtra, Sonia Gandhi told

Congress President Sonia Gandhi (File Photo)

Highlights

  • Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat Manikrao Thakre and Rajani Patil stressed the need to seize the opportunity offered by the collapse of saffron coalition after the polls
  • However, these arguments were met with strong resistance from some AICC leaders who spoke against joining hands with Sena on ideological reasons
NEW DELHI: Maharashtra Congress leaders had in one voice warned Sonia Gandhi that a failure to form government in the state would finish off the party in the state, a doomsday scenario that nudged the party chief to give up her firm opposition to a tie-up with Shiv Sena during the marathon discussions of the Congress Working Committee on Monday.

Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat Manikrao Thakre and Rajani Patil stressed the need to seize the opportunity offered by the collapse of saffron coalition after the polls.

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Among the reasons offered was the restlessness among the MLAs to be part of government. All the legislators are said to have “won on their own” and were becoming “aggressive”. The MLAs are presently corralled in Jaipur for fear that they may be vulnerable to BJP’s attempts to engineer defections.

However, these arguments met with strong resistance from some AICC leaders, including veteran AK Antony, Mukul Wasnik and former home minister Shivraj Patil, who spoke against joining hands with Sena on ideological reasons given the Thackeray outfit’s hard Hindutva background. KC Venugopal cited the failure of the alliance with JD(S) in Karnataka, that he manages as AICC general secretary in-charge, to question the Maharashtra proposal. Importantly, Antony and Venugopal met Sonia on Tuesday morning again.

At one point, former CM Ashok Chavan questioned the premise that forming government with “communal” Sena would hurt the party with minorities.

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Amid the split, Sonia too was against a prospective pact with Sena but heeded the warning of state leaders and came around. She spoke to NCP chief Sharad Pawar to discuss the modalities of alliance. As reported by TOI, it was Pawar who said the matter be deferred as the details had not been worked out.

Sonia, it is learnt, was cut up that Maharashtra leaders were pushing her for an alliance while Pawar was telling her that details had not been finalised yet. It was then that she decided a team of three leaders be sent to talk to Pawar and NCP leaders.
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