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Congress, NCP cross swords

Days after the Lok Sabha results are out, leaders from Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are now engaged in a war of words over going solo in coming Assembly elections later this year.

india Updated: May 20, 2009 02:44 IST
HT Political Bureau

Days after the Lok Sabha results are out, leaders from Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are now engaged in a war of words over going solo in coming Assembly elections later this year.

A section of leaders including former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Balasaheb Vikhe Patil are leading the pack that does not want the party to continue its alliance with the NCP in the Assembly polls.

On Tuesday, party’s Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda joined them demanding that the Congress should go alone in future.

The Congress and NCP forged an alliance in 2004 for the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. In 1999, they fought both elections separately but later formed the government together. However, they rarely had alliances for the local-self government polls.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Deshmukh who was removed as Chief Minister following his government’s failure to prevent 26/11 terror attacks, demanded that Congress should go solo in Lok Sabha polls. Though his demand was ignored then, he has got support of more Congressmen now as the party fared well while NCP returned with poor results in the recent polls.

“This is not only my own opinion but most party leaders and workers want the Congress to contest next polls without joining hands with NCP,” Deshmukh said.

In a column that appeared in his daily ‘Lokmat’ on Tuesday, Darda argued that the Congress, if fights alone, could perform even better in Assembly polls. We must replicate the policy that yielded us better results in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

Senior Minister Patangrao Kadam said the party would seek opinion of all district units before forwarding any recommendation to the high command.

NCP’s young leaders reacted bitterly.

“We want the alliance to avoid division of secular votes. Still if a section in Congress wants it, why to wait for Assembly elections? Let them dissolve the government in state and face the elections,” reacted NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad, a close confidant of NCP Chief Sharad Pawar.

“The Congress leaders should not speak about going solo only to please the party leadership,” he added.

The bitter war of words is likely to intensify in the coming days in the run up to the polls. The two parties contested Lok Sabha polls in alliance but both sides accused each other of working against their candidates.