Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari late on Monday invited the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — ranked third largest in last month’s polls — to form the next government in the state.

The development came as the Governor rejected Shiv Sena’s request for a three-day extension for submitting ‘requisite’ letters of support from other political parties.

Even as it seemed that Maharashtra would finally be getting a new Sena-Congress-NCP alliance government on Monday, the turn of events have put the state back to square one for the meanwhile as Congress has said that it requires more time, ostensibly to decide on whether or not to extend support to the Shiv Sena, the party which looks set to stake its claim to form the government.

Meanwhile, the NCP is waiting for a response from Congress. Party leader Ajit Pawar said that a decision will be taken collectively on the matter.

Maharashtra Congress leader Kagda Chandya Padvi has said that the process is still underway but added that the result will be positive.

“Personally I think the three (Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP) parties will form the government and a Shiv Sena leader will be the CM,” he said.

Meanwhile, top Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel and KC Venugopal were to fly to Mumbai for talks today but the party has postponed the plan.

According to reports, while Maharashtra Congress MLAs favour a truck with the Sena to form a government, the party’s “Kerala lobby” is concerned that a tie-up with such an ideologically different party will hurt the Congress in Kerala.

After marathon meetings on Monday, the Congress issued a statement saying it will hold “further discussions” with its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which was all inclined to support the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

Shiv Sena on Monday exited the NDA government with Union Minister and party MP Arvind Sawant resigning from the Narendra Modi-led Cabinet.

Amongst a string of events, Uddhav Thackeray had a 7-minute telephonic conversation with Sonia Gandhi in which the latter reportedly said that she would get back to him after consulting with her party leaders and MLAs.

But even as a Sena delegation met with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, the Congress put out a non-committal statement saying there was no decision yet and it would talk to Sharad Pawar.

The tussle between BJP and its ally Sena intensified after the former refused two major demands – holding of the chief minister’s post on a rotational basis and implementation of a “50:50 power-sharing” formula, which entails equal allocation of ministerial portfolios.