Mumbai/New Delhi, Nov 11 : Even as the Congress top brass discussed backing a Shiv Sena led government in Maharashtra in Delhi on Monday, the Mumbai Congress was a divided house over the issue with senior leaders contradicting each other.
Former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam has raised a red flag against the party extending support to Sena, while his successor and former union minister Milind Deora wants to see a Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine government.
The reactions came after the largest party BJP expressed its inability to form the government prompting Governor B.S.
Koshyari to invite Sena - the second elected group - to show willingness and ability to give the state a new administration.
While Deora said the Governor should invite NCP-Congress alliance to form the government now that the BJP-Sena have refused to do so, Nirupam said it was impossible for the Congress-NCP to form any government in the current political arithmetic.
"For that we need Shiv Sena.
And we must not think of sharing power with the Sena under any circumstances. That will be a disastrous move for the (Congress)," Nirupam reiterated his earlier position.
The divide came to the fore after reports suggesting a large section of Congress MLAs - currently herded in Jaipur - are pressurising the party high command to support a Sena-led government.
Officially, the Congress and NCP have both maintained that they have no public mandate and are prepared to sit in the Opposition, even as Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Monday indicated that his party was on the way to forming a government with Congress-NCP support, with a common minimum programme.
Nirupam has also questioned: "No matter who forms government and how? But the political instability in Maharashtra cannot be ruled out now.
Get ready for early elections. It may take place in 2020. Can we go to the elections with Shiv Sena as a partner?
The Sena has bowed before the NCP-Congress' demand that it must first snap ties with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance NDA in the Centre and state as a precondition to their support.
As a first step, the Sena has decided to withdraw its sole minister Arvind Sawant from the Union Cabinet.
Maharashtra's October 21 elections threw up a puzzling scenario - BJP won 105, Shiv Sena 56, NCP 54, Congress 44, and the rest went to independents and other parties in the 288-member Assembly.
The BJP-Sena had fought as a pre-poll alliance, but now they have virtually separated despite getting a clear majority.