First test of collaboration in Thane: Mayor, deputy's posts go to Shiv Sena, NCP backs out
Mumbai: It is a win-win situation for all. The NCP gets to regain its lost ground; the Shiv Sena gets to reinvent itself as an all-inclusive umbrella party and disengage with the strident Hindutva lobby; the Congress, in turn, gets to engage with the hard core Sena voter and project itself as a pragmatic party which is not fastidiously tethered to its ideological moorings.
The first test case of the three-party collaboration came when in the Thane Municipal Corporation elections, Sena secured the posts of mayor and deputy mayor after the NCP stepped aside, deciding not to contest.
The deed is done and only a formal announcement on the government formation is awaited.
In Delhi, senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan indicated that there was "complete unanimity on everything" between the Congress and the NCP.
He claimed that the Sena was kept in the loop on the second round of discussions at Sharad Pawar's residence on Thursday but refused to part with details.
He said the media will be briefed on the common minimum programme, the power-sharing formula and the structure of the alliance in Mumbai only on Friday, after the Congress and the NCP leaders have spoken to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
"No announcement until we meet Shri Thackeray," Chavan quipped.NCP general secretary Praful Patel reportedly pressed for inclusion of the "secularism" pledge in Wednesday's meeting to bind the Shiv Sena, but it was Pawar who shot down the idea, saying that nothing should be done that creates a conflict among the coalition partners from day one.
Pawar felt the Shiv Sena's commitment to the Constitution will be sufficient. The Sena leaders are convinced that power is a great glue and nothing will be allowed to rock the alliance because they all want the government to complete five full years and undo the damage inflicted by the BJP dispensation.
"We had raised objections and criticised the BJP-led government too but did not rock the boat," said a Sena leader.
NCP, in turn, feels that with the Ayodhya temple and Article 370 off the saffron menu, most of the prickly issues are out of the way and what remains - like Bharat Ratna for Veer Savarkar - will be skirted in the CMP.
"Why should every issue become a controversy,'' demanded Jayant Patil, echoing the popular sentiment.