Maharashtra Governor S C Jamir on Tuesday stepped in to inject a sense of urgency in the process of government formation in the state and Nationalist Congress Party leader Chagan Bhujbal added a new twist to the ongoing talks, saying his party would support a Congress government from outside.
But his party leader and Union Aviation Minister Praful Patel made it clear that his party will be part of the new state government that will be formed 'at the earliest'.
Talks are on with Congress and issues will be sorted out "amicably and to the satisfaction of all", he said in New Delhi, adding what he was saying was the 'official' stand of the party.
Twelve days after the results were declared, giving the Congress-NCP coalition a majority in the assembly, the two parties are yet to sort out problems of portfolio distribution among them.
As the term of the outgoing assembly ended today, the governor called both Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Bhujbal separately and discussed the issue of government formation with them.
After the meeting with the governor, Bhujbal told reporters that it was for the chief minister to answer to why a government had not yet been formed in the state.
Bhujbal said the NCP was ready to extend support to the new government from outside till it sorts out all pending issues with the Congress.
"The Congress should take the initiative to form the government. We are ready to give them support from outside, but will only join the ministry with honour after the portfolio sharing issue is resolved," he said.
Bhujbal said efforts to resolve differences on portfolio allocations were on and they may be resolved in a day or two. He said the NCP wants no change in the 10-year-old arrangement on portfolio sharing, under which key portfolios of Home and Finance stay with the party.
Asked about Bhujbal's comment on outside support, Patel said at no point has the deputy CM said that the NCP would not be part of the government.
"We have told the governor that we will form the government at the earliest. The NCP will give full support to the new government," he said.
The Union minister said the NCP would participate in the state government and a delay in government formation was normal in a coalition set-up. Even when the Cong-NCP won in 1999 and then again in 2004, it had taken the coalition two weeks to form the government, he recalled.
"There is no specific number or formula that has been put on the table," he said.
"Talks are on at the highest levels, formally and informally, to resolve problems. I don't foresee any big outstanding issue to be resolved," Patel said.
He said the NCP was fulfilling its coalition dharma and would continue to perform its role.
On discussions with the governor, Patel said giving a letter of support to the Congress was not a big issue, but the party was interested in forming a government that would run for five years.