Maharashtra portfolios likely to be finalised today

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MUMBAI: Ahead of staking claim to form the next state government, new-found allies Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have more or less decided the issues of which portfolio will go to whom, along with appointments to state-run corporations. These will be finalised on Saturday, sources said.
An NCP leader said, “The basic draft on portfolios has been prepared, and it will be placed before senior members of all three parties on Saturday. These are all minor issues now. Our priority was to set up a non-BJP government in the state, and we have almost achieved our goal.”
Besides NCP chief Sharad Pawar, the Friday evening meeting, held at the Nehru Centre in Worli, was attended by senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, Balasaheb Thorat and Prithviraj Chavan, NCP leaders Praful Patel, Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar, and the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray, Subhash Desai and Eknath Shinde. “We discussed at length the leadership issue, and there was consensus over the name of Uddhav Thackeray,” Pawar said after the meeting.
A senior NCP leader said it was Pawar who had convinced both Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel that keeping BJP out of power in Maharashtra was important in the larger interest of the state. “If we form the government in Maharashtra with the help of the Shiv Sena and Congress, it will be beginning of the downfall of BJP,” the leader said.
Persuading Congress to join was the toughest . The concern within Congress was that if it collaborated with a “communal” outfit like the Sena, it would lose its voter base among Dalits and Muslims and such a tie-up would have an adverse impact on the upcoming polls in Jharkhand and Delhi.
However, after a series of meetings with Sena MP Sanjay Raut following the assembly poll results and the bitter tussle over the CM’s post between the saffron partners who had a pre-poll alliance, Pawar used his good offices with the Congress leadership, the NCP leader said, and established communication with the Congress and Sena.

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