With the Assembly elections barely three months away, the partners in the ruling alliance, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are still suspicious whether the other partner would ditch at eleventh hour.
In a closed door meeting with select party functionaries including its ministers in the state, NCP chief Sharad Pawar asked his colleagues to be prepared to contest all 288 Assembly seats in case the alliance with the Congress does not work out.
The NCP does not want to go alone but if the situation arises, they should be ready to contest all seats in the state, Pawar told party functionaries.
As part of the strategy, Pawar appointed party’s ministers as in charge of each district for identifying candidates who will help them win.
Though the two parties have been maintaining that they would contest the Assembly elections in an alliance, there are doubts whether the seat sharing between the two would be worked out amicably.
Both parties want a larger share of seats.
While the NCP is claiming larger share on the basis of the 2004 Assembly election results when it emerged as largest party, the Congress wants to consider its own performance in recent Lok Sabha elections for the same. It won 17 seats while the NCP could win only eight seats.
In an internal meeting of the Congress on Thursday, senior party leader Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil demanded that the party go alone in the elections.
The alliance with NCP has affected the party’s growth in the state, he pointed out. His outburst in the media forced state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre to take a stand that senior leaders should exercise restraint.
Addressing a press meet, Thakre called such statements unfortunate. “The decision regarding the alliance would be taken by the party high command. So, there is no need to spoil the environment by such comments,” he said.
“One has to remember that both the parties are in alliance in both the Centre and the state,” he said. He added that their views are of personal nature and has nothing to do with the Congress’ stance.
In view of the coming elections, the Congress has now embarked on a Sampark Yatra (Contact Trail) across the state from June 24 to August 1.