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Cong, NCP begin power sharing talks

October 28, 2009 21:42 IST

Having settled the leadership issue in Maharashtra, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party on Wednesday began talks on the sticky issue of portfolio sharing in New Delhi amid reported differences, especially over the key ministries like home, finance and power.

Nationalist Congress Party sources said party general secretary Praful Patel had held talks with Ahmad Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Praful was authorised by the NCP leadership to hold the parleys.

The NCP stand that it would not like to part with the key portfolios, which the Congress has been eyeing, was again outlined by its senior leader P A Sangma.

"In the area of number of ministers there could be room for negotiations, but not in the area of portfolios," he said.

"We have been in power in Maharashtra for the past 10 years and will run a stable government for another five years," Sangma added.

Sharad Pawar-led NCP has stuck to his position that the 1999 formula should be the basis of power sharing, under which it had got the post of deputy chief minister and key portfolios like home, finance, power and public works department.

However, the Congress has made it clear that power equations will be taken into consideration in the "changed realities", as it had won more seats in the recently held assembly elections than the NCP, its partner in government for the past 10 years.

Sources said the main hitch was the four key portfolios of home, finance, power and PWD, which the Congress is now claiming after its increased strength in the House. Asked about the NCP's insistence on 1999 formula, a senior Congress leader cited the norms for power sharing, which were based on the number of legislators elected.

The Congress won 82 seats while the NCP bagged 62 in the assembly elections.

As suspense mounted over power sharing, both the Congress and the NCP maintained that the talks would conclude soon and the issue would be resolved amicably.

As per the Constitution, the Maharashtra chief minister can have a 42-member council of ministers in the 288-member House.

"The numbers have changed," was the constant refrain of incumbent Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi spoke on similar lines. "This issue will also be solved soon. We had formed the cabinet earlier as well."
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