After its impressive victory in the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress is now getting ready to flex its muscles vis-a-vis the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), its alliance partner in Maharashtra where Assembly polls are slated in October.
The party plans to contest more than the 166 seats it did in 2004 as part of its seat sharing talks with the NCP for the 288-member assembly.
It believes that the earlier arrangement cannot hold this time as Congress had performed better than the NCP in the Lok Sabha polls in the 2009 and delimitation has changed the profile of constituencies.
The first sign had come when Union Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Prithviraj Chavan urged their party to go solo in the state elections.
On Tuesday, Deshmukh renewed this appeal. He said that party workers should be allowed to express their views on the subject before the Congress Working Committee, which may meet soon.
But a section is in favour of continuing with the tie-up as it believes NCP’s relevance as a separate entity diminishes the longer Sharad Pawar’s party remains with the Congress.
Already, it is trying to come to grips with the psychological impact of the Congress’ victory, power struggle at the second level in the party and political repercussions of MP Padamsinh Patil’s alleged involvement in a murder case.
To enhance the Congress’ bargaining power and improve its electoral prospects, the party has started working on the ground in the state where it has been in power for a decade.
The first phase of the programme includes — workers conventions, mass contact programmes, thanksgiving meetings, felicitation functions and regional rallies, which will involve state and central leaders and will culminate with a rally on Tilak Jayanti on August 1 at Pune.