The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, partners in the governing coalition in Maharashtra, began a verbal duel today on their alliance.
The trigger was the NCP winning 13 posts of zilla parishad president and 14 of vice president, with the help of opposition parties. State chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the NCP move was pre-planned and unfortunate. State Congress party chief Manikrao Thakre alleged the NCP had bid goodbye to coalition etiquette to assume power in the ZPs.
The NCP retaliated with similar accusations. State party head Madhukar Pichad said the Congress had aligned with forces attacking NCP chief Sharad Pawar. He dared the chief minister to take corrective steps in his home district, Satara, where the Congress was allegedly holding parleys with the Shiv Sena-BJP opposition. In the recent local and civic body elections, the NCP won far more than the Congress. In the 27 ZP polls, the NCP got 526 of the 1,639 seats and the Congress got 458. The Sena got 255 and the BJP, 198. The Congress got the presidentship of four ZPs and seven vie-presidentships.
An NCP minister, who did not want to be identified, said the Congress should not go on trying to dictate terms to the NCP. "Congress should not blame NCP for making efforts to consolidate itsposition aheadof the 2014 elections. Instead, the party should look into own house and take necessary steps. The problem is the Congress is having a mountain of arrogance. The NCP will not tolerate this further," he warned.
However, the Congress, though angry, knows there is a limit to its display. Maharashtra has 48 seats in the Lok Sabha and winning here is crucial for renewing its rule at the Centre in the 2014 general elections.