Business Standard

NCP downplays Rahul's anointment as Congress vice president

Hints willl continue alliance with Congress but on its terms in Maharashtra

Ruling Nationalist Party (NCP) has downplayed Rahul Gandhi’s anointment as Congress party’s vice president saying that it was its internal matter. But at the same time, chief and union agriculture minister clarified that NCP cannot fight the ensuing polls under the leadership of party MP and his daughter Supriya Sule as the situation has not come in NCP to entrust leadership to her.

To a question whether his party would cooperate if takes over the leadership of the United Progressive Alliance, Pawar quipped:  “How can I react to an event which has not taken place?”

On the other hand, Pawar’s nephew and deputy chief minister sent out a strong message to its co-partner Congress party not to take NCP for a ride. He also declared that NCP was gearing itself for a singular fight in the coming elections to the state assembly slated for 2014. Both Congress and NCP are ruling state since 1999.

Moreover, Ajit Pawar gave one point programme for party cadre that of increasing NCP’s tally both in the Lok Sabha and also in the state assembly in next elections. Ajit has been instrumental to lure disgruntled leaders from Congress, Shiv Sena, BJP and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena to broadbase NCP’s reach. He however, has clarified that the party would not indulge into any move to engineer split in other parties but was open to welcome leaders who have a reckoning and following.

Both uncle and nephew have dropped sufficient indications that NCP won’t unilaterally break alliance with Congress as the party was keen to keep communal forces at bay. However, the duo said NCP would not compromise the interest of party and its workers while keeping its alliance with Congress. 

The stand taken by Pawar senior and junior is crucial especially when Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her speech at Chintan Shivir said there was a need to strike a fine balance when it comes to dealing with alliance partners while ensuring that the party's rejuvenation was not compromised. Sonia thereby has snubbed a section of Congress leaders both from the Centre and from Maharashtra who are quite vocal to press severing links with NCP during 2014 elections.

NCP’s state general secretary, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard “Rahul Gandhi has been toeing idea of Congress party going alone in Maharashtra even if it loses power in 2014 elections. He wants Congress party’s base to increase further instead of its loss due to alliance with NCP. Congress party is free to take its decision so also NCP. However, NCP is preparing its self to face any eventuality.”

Maharashtra Congress party spokesman Sachin Sawant however, said party high command would take a final call on alliance with NCP in the state. “However, as directed by our party president Congress will make all efforts to build the party organization and fight next elections to defeat communal forces.”

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