Mumbai: Even as counting of votes for Lok Sabha polls will be taken up on May 16, the ruling alliance partners Congress and NCP have decided to launch preparations for Assembly elections slated later this year.
As part of preparations, Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar earlier this week met senior leaders of his party to take stock of political situation in Maharashtra and also assessed party’s chances in 21 seats it had contested in the state in recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Pawar also called upon the party workers and leaders to begin groundwork for upcoming elections.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had already declared that Congress and NCP, who have been in alliance since 1999, will fight the polls together to claim power for the fourth term to keep NDA alliance of Shiv Sena and BJP at bay.
Pawar also held one-on-one meetings with district unit chiefs of NCP.
According to sources in NCP, Pawar, who is currently abroad, will return next week.
Pawar has convened a meeting of various stake-holders, including candidates who had contested Lok Sabha polls, party district unit chiefs, MLAs, ministers and office-bearers, on May 10 at “Devgiri”, the official residence of deputy Chief Minister and his nephew Ajit Pawar, they said.
“Pawar is expected to hand over responsibilities for the Assembly polls to senior leaders and office-bearers,” according to sources.
Meanwhile, state Congress unit is also holding a review meeting tomorrow of its district unit chiefs and office-bearers as the part of preparations for Assembly polls.
“Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, MPCC president Manikrao Thakare will be present at the meeting,” they added.
Though the coalition partners fought the Lok Sabha polls unitedly and with better coordination, there were a few instances wherein local Congress leaders worked against official NCP candidates.
According to NCP sources, Congress leaders in Ahmednagar, Thane, Parbhani, Raigad, Nashik, Buldhana, Amravati, Kolhapur, Satara, Maadha and Osmanabad have worked against their party candidates.
Sources claimed that senior Congress leader and minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil supported B J Kolse Patil of AAP in Ahmednagar against Rajiv Rajale – the NCP nominee and nephew of another Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat.
“It (Vikhe Patil’s move) had much to do with the fact that Rajale is the relative of Thorat, an arch rival of Vikhe Patil in the district politics,” sources alleged.
Local Congress leaders in Navi Mumbai and in Mira Bhayander have worked against NCP’s Sanjiv Naik in Thane Lok Sabha constituency. Muzafar Hussain of Congress even put up an independent candidate against Naik, NCP sources said.
Congress MLA Ramprasad Bordikar had openly campaigned against NCP’s Vijay Bhamble in Parbhani while senior Congress leader A R Antulay issued an open letter to the district unit in Raigad to oppose NCP’s Sunil Tatkare.
Another case, according to the sources, is of Congress MLA from Sinnar in Nashik district, Manikrao Kokate.
Kokate did not support NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal in Nashik while Congress MLA Dilip Sananda worked against NCP’s Krishnakant Ingale in Buldhana.
Congress MLAs Yashomati Thakur and Rajendra Shekhawat also did not work for NCP’s Navneet Kaur Rana in Amravati,
Similarly, Dinkar Jadhav, ex-MLA from Radhanagari and Sanjay Ghatge, the former legislator from Kagal, also worked against NCP’s Dhananjay Mahadik in Kolhapur.
Independent MLA Jaykumar Gore, an associate member of Congress, also did not support NCP candidates in Satara and Maadha. NCP also alleged that Congress senior minister Madhukar Chavan worked against Padamsinh Patil in Osmanabad.
NCP sources said the issue will be raised in the coordination committee meeting of both parties, which has been set up to ensure that there is no friction in both partners in elections. “The meeting will be called after May 10.
The committee comprises Chavan, deputy CM Ajit Pawar, state unit chiefs of NCP and Congress, namely Bhaskar Jadhav and Manikrao Thakare, respectively, besides MLA Jitendra Awhad, senior leaders R R Patil, Jayant Patil and Gajanan Desai (NCP), and Narayan Rane, Harshwardhan Patil, Nitin Raut and Sharad Ranpise (Congress).
Meanwhile, Congress sources said the party had taken action wherever complaints were made.