Within an hour after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced its decision to go solo, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) pulled the plug on its 15-year-old alliance with the Congress and the Democratic Front government.
It was not a spontaneous decision and neither did it come as a big surprise. In the run up to Thursday, the NCP had indicated that it will go solo if the saffron combine split.
The trigger for the break-up was the demand made by the NCP — equal seat sharing (144 seats) and the CM’s post for 2.5 years, if the alliance returned to power. The Congress had dubbed this as “impossible”.
But, the rot between the ruling allies had set in much earlier.
“We played the role of a considerate partner by allowing the Congress to retain the chief ministership in 2004, despite the fact that we had won two seats more than that them and the top post was our natural right. After enjoying the position for the past 15 years, Congress should have admitted our rightful demand of the chief minister’s post,” said senior NCP leader Praful Patel.
He blamed Congress for stalling the seat-sharing talks, pointing out that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan left for Karad on Wednesday instead of discussing the matter.
The relations between the allies have hit an all-time low since Chavan took over as CM four years ago. The irrigation scam, dissolution of the apex co-operative bank, rivalry between MSRDC and MMRDA were just some of the flashpoints in this rocky alliance.
The trust deficit between the parties was so low that the alliance partners had already started screening candidates for the 288 seats in the state.
The NCP openly held the Congress state leadership, especially Chavan, responsible for the split in the alliance. Chavan, during a press conference later in the night, in turn, alleged that he had not taken certain decisions in the government where vested interests were involved and that had hurt some people.
“The seat-sharing talks took place under different circumstances where the BJP government had got decisive mandate in the LS polls. The NCP was out of position of power in the Centre and had been looking at ways to get it back,” he said.
The NCP has been in power since it was formed in 1999, and as a regional party it will fight for survival in the coming polls.
Both the allies blamed each other for not trying to keep communal forces at bay.
The NCP decided to pull out of the state government on the ethical grounds.
Ajit, who is also the head of his party in the legislature went to the Raj Bhavan immediately after the announcement and the party submitted a letter to the Governor C Vidyasagar Rao.