While the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders were busy claiming they wanted the alliance to remain intact, Congress leaders were growing increasingly skeptical over the rising closeness between their ally and the BJP.
A section in the NCP, including deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and state unit chief Sunil Tatkare, has been insisting on going solo in the assembly polls. Moreover, Ajit Pawar’s ambition to become chief minister was never really a secret.
However, his uncle and party chief Sharad Pawar along with Praful Patel were in favour of the alliance. Both had been talking to the Congress for six weeks.
While Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was in favour of continuing the alliance, some state leaders preferred contesting alone. The state leadership, especially CM
Prithviraj Chavan, reportedly convinced the high command that the NCP wanted to weaken the Congress. A section of the Congress also believed that the NCP was determined to contest alone from the start, as they were conducting interviews for all 288 constituencies in August-end.
Now, the NCP is likely to join hands with smaller ‘like-minded’ parties including Samajwadi Party (SP), factions of the Republican Party of India and perhaps even the Peasants And Workers party (PWP).
While political pundits have said the NCP would not hesitate to join the BJP post-polls, Praful Patel said they opted to side with the Congress, despite having opportunists to join saffron parties in the past.