Congress in Maharashtra may renegotiate the formula of sharing of ministerial berths with its ally NCP in case the combine returns to power in the state where Assembly polls were held last week.
Since 1999, when both parties first came together to form a coalition government, Congress—NCP combine followed predecessor Shiv Sena—BJP coalition model of sharing ministerial berths.
Under the arrangement, Congress took all portfolios which were handled by the Sena while NCP got the BJP’s ministries.
After ten years of allowing key portfolios like home, finance and power among others to be handled by the NCP, the Lok Sabha election success in May this year has prompted the Congress to rethink the allocation of ministries in the state.
A senior union minister while informally interacting with the media last week had said that the Congress made a mistake in allowing NCP to take away important ministries.
“In 2004, we had to part with two cabinet berths to keep the chief minister’s post when the NCP got just two more seats than us. A chief minister without key departments like home and finance will be on a weak footing,” the minister said on the condition of anonymity.
The results of Maharashtra Assembly polls will be announced on October 22.
That the Congress will renegotiate the portfolios became evident when the party struck a hard bargain and managed to secure 174 seats leaving 114 to the NCP.
Maharashtra assembly is represented by 288 legislators.
AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is co-ordinating with the NCP, is expected to be in Mumbai after Diwali.
With the NCP ruling out staking claim to the chief minister’s post, Congress faces an uphill task choosing the next Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader with many aspirants for the top job.
State Congress spokesman Hussain Dalwai said that the party is expected to continue with incumbent CM Ashok Chavan.
Though former chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde, now union ministers, have said that the new CLP leader will be decided by the MLAs and the high command, they will be happy to have a fresh stint in the state.
Senior Congress leader Narayan Rane, who was the chief minister at the fag end of Sena—BJP rule, too has said that the high command’s decision will be final, but he is being seen as only biding his time.
Mr. Rane had openly revolted against the party after being denied the post in December last year, when Deshmukh quit following the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.