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Extra DyCM holding up Maharashtra CM

Source: PTI
October 26, 2004 02:23 IST
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The Congress on Monday admitted that the Nationalist Congress Party's insistence on having 'one extra deputy chief ministerial post' in Maharashtra had led to the talks over the chief ministership getting 'stuck up'.

"We had offered them one DyCM's post plus three portfolios from our quota," central Congress observer Ghulam Nabi Azad told newspersons in Mumbai on the last proposal his party made to the NCP.

"Talks are stuck up since they are demanding two posts of DyCM," Azad replied to queries on what the NCP wants.

The jostling between the two allies has led to political uncertainty in Maharashtra as the state has been saddled with a caretaker chief minister for the last 10 days.

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Azad, who along with party in-charge for Maharashtra, Margaret Alva, and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Digvijay Singh, were present as observers at Congress legislative party (CLP) meeting in Vidhan Bhawan (state legislature complex) late on Monday evening, however, denied that there was anything wrong in the discussions stretching for over a week now.

"In Karnataka, it took nearly three weeks, while in Jammu & Kashmir it took over four weeks to decide upon the shape of the new governments," Azad said adding that the idea behind these discussions was to iron out every palpable contentious issue for smooth functioning of the new governments.

Till the talks got stuck, it was mutually agreed that the Congress will retain the CM's post and will have 19 ministerial berths while the NCP will have a DCM's post and 24 ministerial berths.

AICC general secretary and party in-charge for Maharashtra Margaret Alva was visibly upset over the NCP's posture. "Two DyCMs, three extra ministerial berths, just for the sake of two extra seats they have won... what is going on?"

She also came down heavily on the Communist Party of India-Marxist, which with three legislators has disassociated itself from the Congress in the ongoing number game between the Congress and NCP.

Reacting to the CPI-M's statement that it did not have a pre-poll alliance with the Congress, Alva said, "The CPI-M cannot change facts. They may deny it now but the three seats, which CPM won, were left from the Congress quota after discussions with (CPI-M polit bureau member) Sitaram Yechury.

"Could the CPI-M be so generous as to not field anyone against Congress candidates but 10 against NCP candidates?"

Alva also denied NCP chief Sharad Pawar's claim that the Congress-NCP had mutually agreed that the CM's post would go to the party with the larger number of MLAs, like in 1999.

"Pawar repeatedly kept telling us that the CM's post was ours. The issue of majority seats never figured in his statements. He said this even in the Nashik rally (where Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was also present)," she said.

Earlier, the CLP passed three resolutions unanimously. One empowered Gandhi to select a new leader of the party in Maharashtra; another thanked voters for reposing confidence in the Congress-NCP combine and the third thanked Gandhi for campaigning extensively in Maharashtra.
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