Hiccups apart, Congress-NCP tie-up intact

New Delhi :  The Congress party accepts that ahead of the elections its alliance with the Nationalist Congress party does have issues related to seat sharing, but these do not derail the alliance itself.

“We have had these problems every time before the elections, but then the issues get sorted out. The alliance has been there for 15 years, and we are tuned to working with each other,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Hiccups apart, Congress-NCP tie-up intact

He cited the recent media reports about the NCP chief Sharad Pawar meeting the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, and the NCP leader’s prompt denial to substantiate his point about the strength of the alliance. Indeed, the Congress party dubs the NCP spokesperson D P Tripathi as a ‘rollback spokesperson’ whose media quotes should be carefully assessed before coming to political conclusions as these are prone to being denied.

Maharashtra is the main state where the two parties have an effective alliance, and its 48 Lok Sabha seats have been shared in the ration of 22-26 between the NCP and the Congress, but every time there is a tug of war between the two state units over this ratio. This time as well chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has staked a claim to a higher number of seats on the grounds that his party has a better strike rate.

The NCP’s senior leader and union minister Praful Patel has publicly aired a complaint that the Congress does not treat its ally with respect, and should take the initiative to seal the seat sharing arrangement promptly.

But this time, the alliance could extend to Bihar as well with the Congress tying up with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Lok Janashakti Party to revive the 2004 combine that had done well in the state. The NCP is likely to get two seats in Bihar.

On the wider issues of alliances, the Congress spokesperson maintained that theoretically ‘all options were open’ for the party barring a tie-up with communal parties. This opens the pre-poll and post-poll possibilities depending on the numbers that are obtained after the elections to form workable combinations.

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Congress spokesperson Anand Gadgil told the Free Press Journal that there was nothing new about NCP’s pressure tactics. “We see this as a repeat of the 2009 elections; then, too, the NCP had exerted similar pressure on us. Pawar has been meeting leaders of various parties in the last few weeks and we are aware of this.”

BJP leader Gopinath Munde was equally categorical and told the Free Press Journal that “there is no question of our prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi meeting Pawar. Modi doesn’t need any support — it is Pawar who may need some. There is no question of an alliance.”

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, too, has made it clear that there is no space for the NCP in the BJP-led alliance at the Centre or in Maharashtra. In other words, Sharad Pawar is not welcome in the NDA.

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