Mumbai: Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshyari late on Monday invited the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form the next government in the state, the party’s national spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

“Our delegation has been invited by the Governor and the indication is that a letter of invitation will be given to us. Tomorrow we shall discuss with the Congress on the ways and means to form the next government,” Malik told newpersons.

Earlier, senior NCP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar informed the media that he was called by the Governor at 8.30pm and he was proceeding to the Raj Bhavan for a meeting along with half-a-dozen other leaders, but claimed that he had no knowledge as to why he was called.

Malik added that given the short 24-hour time limit, the Congress-NCP could not comply with all the requirements to enable the Shiv Sena finalise its claim for forming the government.

“The governor requires letters with signatures, names, constituency names and the number of all the supporting legislators which was difficult to organise at such a short notice. The Sena sought additional time, but the governor expressed his inability to grant the extension,” Malik said.

Earlier, on Sunday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expressed its inability to form the government, and on Monday, the Shiv Sena could not produce the letters of support from the Congress and the NCP though it has secured ‘in-principle’ support from both the parties. And now, the NCP has been given the opportunity.

Dashing the hopes of Shiv Sena, the Congress on Monday did not commit support to a government headed by Uddhav Thackeray’s party in Maharashtra as some senior leaders expressed opposition to such a move.

According to sources, three senior leaders — A.K. Antony, Mallikarjun Kharge and K.C. Venugopal — particularly were opposed to extension of support to a Shiv Sena government as they feared backlash for the Congress in other states.

Even Maharashtra leader Manik Rao Thackeray had reservations as he said that “there is an issue of ideological differences with Shiv Sena”.

An indication about Congress’ disinclination to support the Shiv Sena came in the afternoon after the meeting of Congress Working Committee (CWC) when IANS asked Venugopal about the decision. He laughed and said: “No outside or inside.”

A subsequent meeting saw Venugopal talking to the legislators from Maharashtra to ascertain their views.

When the meeting ended, IANS again asked Venugopal and he replied: “No decision yet.”

Soon after, the party issued a statement, which said: “The Congress Working Committee met this morning and had a detailed discussion on the situation in Maharashtra after which a consultation was held with Maharashtra Congress leaders. The Congress President (Sonia Gandhi) has spoken to Shri Sharad Pawar Ji. The party will have further discussion with NCP.”