The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Friday staked their claim to form the government in Maharashtra. Subsequently, the oath-taking ceremony will be held on Saturday, when Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal will be sworn in.
Initiating the process of government formation, Mr. Chavan and Mr. Bhujbal, along with other leaders, met Maharashtra Governor S.C. Jamir on Friday and presented a letter of support staking claim to government formation in the State.
Speaking shortly after the meeting with Mr. Jamir, Mr. Chavan announced to the media at Raj Bhavan: “Chhagan Bhujbal and I, and leaders of supporting parties, met the Governor today [Friday] and submitted a letter staking our claim to form the government. The Governor in turn presented us a letter, inviting us to form the government. Consequently, the oath-taking ceremony will take place on Saturday [at 5.30 p.m.].”
Mr. Chavan said the letter carried the signatures of 170 MLAs from the Congress, NCP, Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Swabhimani Paksha, and independent MLAs.
The signatures also comprise 82 MLAs from the Congress and 62 from the NCP, thus leaving the remaining 26 to independents and members of allying parties.
Mr. Chavan said 20 NCP ministers would be taking the oath of office and secrecy on Saturday. The Congress list, however, has not been finalised. It would be ready on Saturday afternoon. “Tomorrow we will let you know how many have been finalised. Some discussions have taken place,” he said.
Pointing to a two-phase swearing-in process for Congress ministers, Mr. Chavan said: “Only the first lot of ministers from the Congress would be administered the oath. The next bunch would be sworn in and inducted into the Cabinet later. Candidates with good performance will be chosen for government formation. Some of our legislators are new. We are making efforts to accommodate everyone.”
The Chief Minister remained tight-lipped about the power sharing formula and refused to comment on the much discussed 23:20 formula. “I don’t want to state any formula here,” he replied.
As for the Speaker’s name, Mr. Chavan said the election for the post would be announced soon.
Mr. Chavan added that the newly formed Cabinet would meet on Sunday and decide the schedule for the next Assembly session. He said there was an atmosphere of goodwill among the parties. “There is no dispute whatsoever. The Cabinet will also have young faces.”