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NCP, Congress discuss CM issue

Source: PTI
October 17, 2004 20:32 IST
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A day after winning the mandate in Maharashtra, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party were on Sunday trying to come to an understanding over who would lead the government.

Sharad Pawar, whose NCP emerged as the single largest party with 71 seats, met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the morning and staked his party's claim to the chief minister's post.

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But Congress leader Digvijay Singh said that the CM should be from his party. "The Congress and other friendly parties have more in their kitty than the Sharad Pawar-led party," he said in Mumbai.

The Congress won 69 seats out of 157 it contested, he said, adding that it spared three seats from its quota for the Communist Party of India-Marxist, two seats for the Republican Party of India-Gavai and two for independents Hitendra Thakur and Harshvardhan Patil.

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The CPI-M won all the three seats and so did the independents. However, the RPI-G drew a blank, he said.

NCP leader and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel met Gandhi in the evening, while Congress leader Ahmed Patel and NCP leader D P Tripath met CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechuri separately.

Patel later briefed Pawar on his meeting with Gandhi.

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Yechuri distanced himself from the NCP-Congress race, saying, "We are not getting into it. We are taking a neutral view. We are supporting a secular government.  Let them sit and decide the issue."

After the meeting with Gandhi, Pawar said, "We are ready to show our figure. Our position is good."

He claimed that of the 16-odd independent legislators, the NCP would get the support of at least a dozen.

Pawar said the 1999 formula of conceding the chief ministership to the single largest party was discussed with Gandhi.

When told that chief ministership could mean the NCP losing plum portfolios and also the assembly speakership, he remarked, "We are ready to make that sacrifice."

He also ruled out his going back to the state as CM.

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