New Delhi: Hard bargain is on the cards when talks on government formation in Maharashtra begin on Wednesday with a resurgent Congress planning to insist on a fresh formula for sharing of portfolios while its ally NCP wants continuance of the 1999 formula under which it had held key ministries.
"The formal talks for government-formation will begin in Delhi tomorrow," Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said here after a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
He said Congress will insist on a "fresh" formula for government-formation. NCP, which won 20 seats less than Congress this time, has been demanding a repeat of the 1999 formula under which it had held key portfolios including Home, Finance, Power and PWD and Congress had the Chief Minister`s post.
Raised the bargaining pitch for better portfolios, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said in Mumbai today that his party would extend outside support to Congress if it did not follow the 1999 formula. He demanded 21 portfolios for NCP and independents supporting the party.
"It is a decision which they have to take," Chavan said when asked about NCP`s threat not to be part of the new government.
The 288-member Maharashtra assembly can have a maximum of 42 ministers in addition to the Chief Minister, as per the constitutional requirement.
Ahead of tomorrow`s talks with NCP, Chavan held a series of meetings with top Congress leaders, including a 90-minute with Gandhi, here today on government-formation exercise.