With all eyes on Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi to give a signal on supporting the Shiv Sena and the NCP in forming the Maharashtra government, several senior party leaders, including from the state, held a crucial meeting for the second time at her residence on the issue.
Gandhi, who held a meeting with senior party leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, K.C. Venugopal, Ambika Soni, and Jyotiraditya Scindia in the morning for over one and a half hours, again held a detailed meeting with party leaders, along with senior leaders from the state, to come to a conclusion.
The second meeting started at 4 p.m. at her residence here with Maharashtra leaders like Rajiv Satav, Rajani Patil, Manikrao Thackarey, former Chief Ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan, Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, Vijay Wadettiwar and others.
The meeting comes in the wake of reports that majority of Congress MLAs of the state favoured supporting Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Congress has to take a final call by Monday itself.
The Congress, which had won 44 out of the state's 288 seats in the October 21 Assembly polls, had shifted all its MLAs to Jaipur fearing poaching attempts.
Interacting with reporters in the afternoon, Congress in-charge of Maharashtra, Kharge said: "We had a discussion on Maharashtra."
According to Congress sources, a decision of giving outside support or joining the government will be taken only after consultation with state leaders.
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena's sole representative in the Union Cabinet, Arvind Sawant announced he would quit the government over the Maharashtra fallout. Accusing the BJP of backing out of its '50:50 formula' promise made to his party, he said allegations of not having any such talks "hurt the pride of the Thackeray family" and put a question mark on the continuance of the BJP-Sena alliance.
On Sunday, the BJP informed Governor B.S. Koshyari that it cannot form the government despite being the single largest party in the Assembly with 105 seats, and he then invited the Shiv Sena, being the second largest party, to form the government.
The Shiv Sena, which won 56 out of the 288 seats in the state, had been insisting on the rotational chief ministership in the state which the BJP refused leading to the political crisis for the last fortnight in the state.
The senior leadership of the NCP, which bagged 55 seats, also had a meeting of the party's core committee to discuss government formation.
According to NCP sources, Pawar is set to call Gandhi after her meeting with the party leaders ends.