Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said his party would hold talks with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, and come up with an agreement on government formation in Maharashtra, PTI reported. However, at a joint press conference, the Congress and the NCP said they had not yet taken a decision about backing a Sena-led government.

The remarks came hours after the state was placed under President’s Rule as the Union Cabinet approved Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s recommendation.

Thackeray said his party requires clarity about a common minimum programme. “Sena contacted the Congress and the NCP for first time on Monday, which negates the BJP’s charge that Sena was in touch with these two parties since poll results,” he said at a press conference in Mumbai.

Thackeray said the three parties would find a way to work together despite their different ideologies, The Indian Express reported. The Sena leader said Koshyari did not give the party even 48 hours to allow it to prove majority.

The Shiv Sena chief responded to criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party for approaching the Congress and the NCP, pointing out that the saffron party too had formed an alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir, News18 reported. Thackeray, however, did not rule out the possibility of getting back with the BJP. “It is politics,” he said. “Six months time has been given [President’s Rule]. I didn’t finish the BJP option, it was BJP itself which did that...”

Earlier in the day, the Sena moved the Supreme Court against the governor’s refusal to give it extra time to form the government. It will be mentioned in the court on Wednesday. The party is also likely to file a petition challenging President’s Rule.

Congress-NCP ‘not in a hurry’

At their press conference, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party said they were not in a hurry to form the government, and said more talks would be held on the matter, PTI reported. The press meeting was held after senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and KC Venugopal met NCP President Sharad Pawar.

“We [Congress and NCP leaders] discussed the nitty gritty of a [possible] common minimum programme to ensure the government functions smoothly,” Pawar said.

Ahmed Patel confirmed that the Shiv Sena had officially approached the two parties on Monday to discuss forming a non-BJP government. The senior Congress leader criticised Governor Koshyari for not inviting his party to form the government. “This government has violated Supreme Court guidelines on President’s Rule on several occasions in in the last five years,” he said.

‘We will try to form a stable government’

Meanwhile, BJP leader Narayan Rane said the BJP would attempt to form the government in the state. “Devendra Fadnavis is putting in all efforts in this direction,” ANI quoted him as saying. Rane claimed the Congress and the NCP were trying to “make a fool out of the Shiv Sena”.

In a press release, Fadnavis said the imposition of President’s Rule was unfortunate. The party expects to soon form a stable state government, he added.

The former chief minister’s colleague, Sudhir Mungantiwar, also echoed his statement and said President’s Rule was unexpected. “We will certainly try to ensure that people’s mandate is respected,” ANI quoted him as saying. “We will try to form a stable government. We will stand by the people of the state.”

An unidentified senior BJP leader told The Hindu that the scope for discussions with the Sena was open. “The doors for talks between the BJP and the Shiv Sena are never closed, though one of their Ministers have resigned at the Centre,” he added. “As far we are concerned, the door for talks are open.”

Shiv Sena’s lone minister in the central government, Arvind Sawant, had resigned from his post on Monday.

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