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So, what ails the state Congress?

india Updated: Mar 12, 2013 01:45 IST
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Amidst allegations against Nationalist Congress Party ministers and fighting between opposition parties, little is being said about the happenings in the state Congress – the ruling party that hopes to return to power in 2014.

There is considerable unease within the party, which is divided into 3 groups – those who support chief minister Prithivraj Chavan, those who are strongly against him and those who are against him but don’t want to say much.

Chavan’s supporters think he has done what none of his predecessors have – force the mighty NCP to eat humble pie. They think Chavan provided ammunition against NCP ministers including deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and ensured the NCP was put in the dock over allegations of corruption.

The other two groups within the Congress, however, do not accept the theory. Reining in the NCP is fine, but what the Congress is doing to improve its tally is not clear yet, they say, and point out what happened in the 2012 civic polls where the party did not win a single major city.

There is no coordination between the party and the government and the party has not got political benefit out of being in power, they say.

Though it is facing allegation after allegation, top NCP leaders regularly sit in the party office to interact with partyworkers, its entire top brass keeps touring the state to strengthen the party organisation on the ground and strategies are planned to ensure the party gets credit for decisions taken by the government, they point out.

The dynamics with the Congress has changed over the past few months. Many in the party thought Chavan would shift to the Centre in the reshuffle but that was ruled out in the last reshuffle. Knowing that he will stay in the state, Chavan has dug in his heels and started flattening his opponents – either from the NCP or within his party.

Chavan and state Congress president Manikrao Thakre do not see eye to eye. All India Congress Committee in charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash is not exactly happy with the CM. Several senior leaders of the party (including senior ministers in the cabinet who do not want to invite Chavan’s ire) have chosen to keep quiet. Will this unease in the Congress go or turn into a bitter war in the run-up to the 2014 elections?

BJP’s tricky situation with Raj

As MNS chief Raj Thackeray targeted their party, BJP’s political managers were surprised, shocked and angry. The party has been dreaming about a Sena-BJP-MNS axis to win the next assembly polls.

Initially when Raj started criticising the Sena-BJP for not doing the Opposition’s job effectively, they were surprised. When he named a party MP close to former party president while attacking deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar over the irrigation scam, they were shocked. When the MNS chief on Sunday accused party leaders of striking deals with the ruling party they got angry. Now Opposition leader in the Assembly Eknath Khadse has challenged Raj to prove his allegations.

BJP state leaders too are considering snapping ties with the MNS – which would mean Raj’s party losing power in the Nashik Municipal Corporation, the first ever civic body it won last year. So, are they finally crossing swords? A section in the BJP does not want the party to give up on MNS yet.

They think Raj can be brought on board after the polls. After all, staying away from power for five more years seems to be too disturbing.