The ruling Congress-NCP alliance is testing the waters by going solo in majority of the upcoming municipal council elections. Despite the united stance in the government, the alliance is testing its strength in the ensuing local self-government polls slated for November 19.
The Congress seems to be adopting the strategy of uniting all foes of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the ensuing polls. It plans to execute the ploy more effectively in the western Maharashtra where NCP is strong and the Congress has a little following.
Barring few places in Pune district and Tasgaon in Sangli, the Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil's hometown, the Congress has formed alliance with like-minded parties (expect the Shiv Sena and BJP) and individuals. It has forged friendship with NCP in just 11 seats out of 724 in western Maharashtra.
A total of 161 municipal councils which govern small cities are going to polls this month.
"We're the single largest party having no alliance with NCP or any other party (except the Congress regular allies) to go solo in 131 councils," said party spokesperson Sanjay Nirupam.
NCP likewise is shaking hands with local parties including Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) or sponsoring independent candidates despite the alliance.
"We are going solo in 135 council seats that’s nearly 75 per cent of the seats. We will go with the alliance in 20 per cent and tie up with other likeminded parties in the remaining 5 per cent,’’ said the state general secretary of the NCP, Gurunath Kulkarni.
For the first time top state and Central leadership of the Congress will campaign for these elections. Party chief Sonia Gandhi launched the campaign in Chakur near CM's hometown Latur which also goes to poll on November 19. With 62 seats, Latur is the largest municipal council in the state where the Congress is going solo.