Mumbai: Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam on Friday criticised party leaders who are mulling supporting the Shiv Sena in formation of the next government in Maharashtra, where the ruling saffron allies are engaged in a tug of war over sharing of power.
Nirupam said the ongoing war of words between the BJP and its ally Shiv Sena was nothing but "drama" and the Congress should stay away from it.
"Have they lost? How can some Congress leaders think of supporting the Shiv Sena," the former Mumbai Congress president tweeted. "Congress should not get into Shiv Sena-BJP drama. It's fake. It's their temporary fight to grab more power share," said the ex-MP, who is miffed with party leadership over ticket distribution for the October 21 polls.
"To the best of my understanding, Shiv Sena will never come out of BJP's shadow," said Nirupam, who was associated with the Bal Thackeray-founded party before joining the Congress. He cautioned his party against "flirting" with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party. "It is going to be a futile exercise. Hope the state leaders realise the truth. Instead we must introspectwhy the party lost 2 per cent of votes as compared to 2014 assembly elections. "We are down from 17 to 15 per cent (in terms of vote share). As a party we have come down from 3rd to 4th position (in term of seats)," he said.
Former Congress chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan have spoken about the need for the Shiv Sena to break away from the BJP in case it wants to form government with their party's support. However, senior Congress leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC in-charge of Maharashtra affairs, and Sushilkumar Shinde are against doing any business with the Shiv Sena.
When contacted, Shinde told PTI that the Congress is a secular party. "The Congress and the Shiv Sen are ideologically different and Mallikarjun Kharge has already said there is no question of the two parties coming together," said Shinde, a former chief minister. Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat met NCP president Sharad Pawar on Thursday morning and later left flew to Delhi to hold parleys with party president Sonia Gandhi over the political situation in the state.
Government formation is in a limbo in Maharashtra as the Sena is demanding the Chief Minister's post on a rotational basis and 50:50 division of portfolios. However, the BJP has insisted that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will continue to hold the post for the next five years. In the just-concluded polls, the NCP won 54 seats, while its ally Congress clinched 44 seats. On the other hand, the BJP and Shiv Sena won 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly.