The Congress had made up its mind to snap ties with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and go it alone in Maharashtra soon after the Lok Sabha elections, party sources told HT on Friday.
The party had come to the conclusion that while it is facing huge anti-incumbency, carrying the “NCP’s baggage of corruption” to the assembly elections would further hurt its poll prospects.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, whose strong stance on coalition politics is well known, was also not keen on continuing the alliance with the NCP.
Congress leaders, including the head of panel on alliances AK Antony, held just one meeting with the NCP leadership on seat-sharing arrangements after the Lok Sabha elections as compared to the past when the two parties would engage in several rounds of parleys on the issue.
“Seat-sharing was never an issue. When we were ready to give 124 seats, there was no problem in conceding few more,” a senior Congress leader said. “We are looking for long term gains and not just one election.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was given the task of implementing Rahul’s grand plan of going solo in future polls.
Chavan not only played hard ball in seat-sharing talks but also took the first step in antagonising the NCP leadership by giving the nod for a probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) into the irrigation scam allegedly involving deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and state NCP chief Sunil Tatkare.
In a multi-cornered contest, the party is now hoping to benefit from the division of opposition votes. The Congress has also accused the NCP of warming up to the BJP.