Congress wants commitment on secularism before backing Shiv Sena: Sources

Sources added that the Congress wants Shiv Sena to ditch its image of a hardline Hindutva party and adopt the agenda of soft Hindutva.

Congress wants commitment on secularism before backing Shiv Sena: Sources

Amid the ongoing political stalemate in Maharashtra over the formation of new government in the state, Congress sources on Thursday claimed that Sonia Gandhi-led party wants a commitment on secularism from Shiv Sena before giving support to the party to form the government in the state. Sources added that the Congress wants Shiv Sena to ditch its image of a hardline Hindutva party and adopt the agenda of soft Hindutva. 

Senior leaders of the Congress and its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are scheduled to meet in Delhi on November 17 in order to hold discussions over the formation of government in Maharashtra in alliance with Shiv Sena. Sources told Zee News that leaders of the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena will then hold a joint meeting to hold talks over Shiv Sena's commitment on secularism and formation of new government in Maharashtra. It is learnt that the Congress will not support Shiv Sena unless the party gives a commitment to follow the path of secularism. 

In a related development, a Congress delegation is set to meet interim president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday (November 14) to submit a report on the ongoing talks with NCP leaders over government formation in Maharashtra.

It is to be noted that the President's Rule was imposed in Maharashtra on Tuesday (November 12) after no political party or alliance failed to stake claim to form a stable government in the statement. But Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP are busy in hectic parleys to end political uncertainty in the state with the sources claiming that the NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress have agreed on a power-sharing deal.

Interestingly, the BJP and Shiv Sena had contested the election as allies with the BJP emerging as the single largest party after winning 105 seats. The Shiv Sena finished at second place with 56 seats in its kitty. The two parties, however, did not form the government as they failed to reach an agreement over sharing the chief minister's post. 

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The Shiv Sena repeatedly claimed that the BJP must commit to the 50-50 formula agreed between the two parties before the Lok Sabha poll in the presence of BJP president Amit Shah and Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray. As per the 50-50 formula, Shiv Sena had demanded that the post of the chief minister should rotate between the two parties for a period of 2.5 years. The BJP, however, refused to accept the Shiv Sena's demand and this led to the breakdown of the alliance between the two parties.