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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Congress under attack: NCP demands more seats

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  Mumbai/New Delhi, May 24, 2014
First Published: 00:31 IST(24/5/2014) | Last Updated: 11:51 IST(24/5/2014)

On a day its allies struck a defiant note, rumblings within the Congress over its disastrous showing in Elections 2014 came out in the open.

Friday started out with the NCP leader Sharad Pawar blaming the Congress for his party’s dismal performance in Maharashtra. At a review meeting of the NCP, Pawar said the Congress was weak in the state and demanded more seats from its ally in the upcoming state assembly polls. “Last time, when we got fewer seats than Congress in Lok Sabha polls, they said they should get more Assembly seats to contest. We should remember it this time when we sit to discuss seat sharing,” he said.

Citing the success of regional parties, Pawar said the NCP and other parties in the UPA had suffered due to anti-incumbency, “The non-BJP and non-Congress parties have done well in their states. Our candidates felt the brunt of the anger against the Congress.”

Pawar was joined by NCP senior leader Praful Patel who directly hit out at outgoing PM Manmohan Singh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi saying they had the responsibility “to reply to the attack from the opposition”.

Discord in the Congress ranks was exposed when Youth Congress president Rajeev Satav took to Twitter to hit out at former union minister Milind Deora, who had attacked party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s advisers of not listening to party cadres.

“Surprised to see #Milind-Deora’s comments. Thought he was one of the closest to RG (Rahul Gandhi) or at least it’s what his friends in the media kept writing,” Satav tweeted before attacking him for losing his seat.

Talking to HT, Satav questioned Deora’s timing, “He could have tweeted about this before or in the middle of elections. Who stopped him? Why now?” he asked, adding that the poll debacle was a collective responsibility.

On his part, Deora sought to clarify. “My comments are out of emotions of deep loyalty to the party, pain of our performance and a sincere desire to see us bounce back. Nothing more,” he tweeted. “An honest call for introspection & reform is constructive. Blame games are not. I understand that. Hope the media does too,” read another tweet from Deora.

In damage control, the Congress rallied behind Rahul calling him the “fittest” leader while party general secretary Shakeel Ahmad dismissed contentions that Deora’s remarks were an attack on the V-P.

“It is your imagination. It is not an attack on him. He is the fittest leader for every responsibility which the party or the country will assign him,” Ahmad said.

Amid a growing clamour for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s to don a bigger role in the party, Ahmad said it would have to be her decision. “Do not ask us to take a decision on her behalf,” he said, adding such demands were not new and had come in the past as well.

Ahmed, however, was quick to point out that Priyanka’s public meetings in Amethi and Rae Bareli had attracted mass media attention. “It’s a pleasant thing for us,” he said.


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