New Delhi: The Congress party and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) remain deadlocked over government formation in Maharashtra, where the two parties together won assembly elections last month, but haven’t been able to agree on the distribution of portfolios.

No way out: Deputy CM-designate Chhagan Bhujbal said the NCP will join the government only when the issues are resolved. Kunal Patil / HT

While the central leadership of the Sharad Pawar-led NCP appears to be more considerate, its state unit is insisting that the party be allotted the post of deputy chief minister and key portfolios including home, finance, power and public works.

NCP leader and civil aviation minister Praful Patel said the issue will be sorted out soon.

“The discussion between the Congress and the NCP is on. We are confident that the talks will reach a conclusion and (we will) complete the process soon," Patel, the NCP’s negotiator with the Congress, told reporters in New Delhi. “We will definitely be joining the government (in Maharashtra)," he added.

Patel’s clarification came hours after his party colleague Chhagan Bhujbal, its deputy chief minister designate, said in Mumbai that the NCP would support a government from the outside for now and join it only when the issues are resolved.

Bhujbal said he had conveyed the message to Maharashtra governor S.C. Jamir, who met chief minister-designate Ashok Chavan and Bhujbal separately to discuss government formation.

A senior NCP leader, who did not want to be identified, said the party was agreeable to the Congress party taking the chief minister’s post and 21 portfolios. The NCP wanted 20 portfolios apart from the deputy chief minister’s post, this leader said.

The two parties—the Congress with 82 seats and NCP with 62 in the 288-member assembly—have been squabbling over government formation since results of the 13 October state election were declared.

Justifying the delay, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said: “It is good to settle all the issues before the formation of the government so that the new government can dedicate its full attention and time to focus on the people’s issues."