Congress leaders making a strong case for severing ties with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra cut a sorry figure after party vice-president Rahul Gandhi reminded them this was an era of coalitions, adding the party had to fight alongside allies until it was in a position to win 300 seats single-handedly.
Gandhi indicated for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, the Congress-NCP alliance was vital. He rapped Congress leaders for painting a rosy picture about the party’s position in Maharashtra at a time when its strength in local and civil bodies was insignificant. The party had to focus on strengthening itself in the state, he said.
It is expected the two parties would soon begin talks on a seat-sharing formula. Though NCP has already announced the 26:22 formula would continue, the Congress is pushing a 29:19 formula.
Recently, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party decided to stick to the 26:22 formula for the coming general elections.
A section of the Congress party—from the block level to the state executive committee—had launched a campaign to scrap the alliance with the NCP, arguing the Congress’s position had improved since the 2009 Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections. In 2009, the Congress had won 17 Lok Sabha seats and 82 assembly seats in Maharashtra, while the NCP had bagged only eight Lok Sabha seats and 62 assembly seats.
NCP spokesperson and legislator Nawab Malik told Business Standard, “This is an era of coalition politics, especially when no party is able to secure majority on its own. Those arguing for a 29:19 formula in Maharashtra should now know their limitations. The Congress leadership has also realised it needs to fight the coming elections in an alliance with NCP to keep the communal forces at bay.”
Sachin Sawant, spokesperson of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, said till the party crossed the 272-mark in the Lok Sabha on its own, it had to embrace alliance politics. “As far as Maharashtra is concerned, the party will have to conduct seat-sharing talks with NCP after taking into account the ground realities,” he said.
Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats and 288 Assembly seats.