Amid the political uncertainty in Maharashtra, the newly elected Congress MLAs from the State, staying at a luxury resort, near here, on Sunday, authorised party president Sonia Gandhi to nominate the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP).
The party declared that it had accepted the mandate to sit in the Opposition.
Senior Congress leader and former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde arrived in the evening to convey Ms. Gandhis message to the MLAs and interact with them to get their views on the partys stand on the formation of a government.
Considering the threat of poaching amid a political impasse in Maharashtra, the Congress shifted its 44 MLAs-elect on Friday and Saturday to the resort on the Jaipur-Delhi National Highway, about 20 km from the city. They include the senior leaders Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat.
At the CLP meeting in the resort, the MLAs passed a brief resolution favouring the continuation of the alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and authorised Ms. Gandhi to nominate the CLP leader. After the meeting, several of them left for places of worship in Ajmer and Pushkar.
The partys Maharashtra in-charge, Mallikarjun Kharge, who met the MLAs, told presspersons that people had given the Congress the mandate to sit in the Opposition, which the party had accepted.
Now, it is for the Congress high command to take a decision... There is no truth in the [purported] statements about supporting Shiv Sena. Those who have the mandate should form the government, he said.
Mr. Kharge said the Congress, along with the NCP, was willing to play the role of a responsible Opposition and raise peoples issues in the Assembly.
The MLAs are likely to stay in the resort until the perceived threat of poaching subsides and a clear picture emerges on the government formation.