Former Union minister and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Monday met interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi, but claimed he did not discuss the prospect of government formation in Maharashtra, ANI reported. Pawar said he briefed Gandhi about the political situation in Maharashtra.

A day after Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had contacted him, Sharad Pawar told reporters that his party had not held discussions with the Sena. “People have given us a mandate to sit in Opposition,” he said. “Neither have we spoken to Shiv Sena nor have they spoken to us.”

Sharad Pawar flatly denied there was a possibility that he might once again become the chief minister. Asked if there was a “bargaining game” going on between the Shiv Sena and the BJP, Pawar said: “I think the game between the two is serious.” On Friday, Sharad Pawar had said his party would think of forming an alternative government if the talks between the Shiv Sena and the BJP failed.

The BJP won 105 seats in the Assembly polls, results for which were declared on October 24. The Shiv Sena won 56 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party bagged 54 constituencies and the Congress 44 seats.

The NCP-Congress meeting came hours after Raut met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, and claimed that his party was not responsible for the stalemate in the state. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also met BJP chief Amit Shah earlier in the day.

The political situation in the state is in deadlock because the Shiv Sena wants the chief minister’s post for half of the five-year tenure and an equal division of Cabinet portfolios. The BJP wants Fadnavis to continue as chief minister for the full five-year term. Last week, Uddhav Thackeray cancelled a meeting with the BJP after Fadnavis denied that his party had agreed to an equal power-sharing agreement before the Lok Sabha polls.

The two parties now have only five days to reach a solution as the legislative Assembly’s tenure expires on November 9.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.