Ready for talks on alliance with Congress in Gujarat, says Praful Patel at NCP meet
The party is holding a two-day meet in Karjat, where its stand on issues such as loan waiver, alliance with the Congress and policy regarding the BJP, will be discussedmumbai Updated: Nov 07, 2017 12:51 IST
With the Congress planning to float a mega anti-BJP front in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections, senior NCP leader Praful Patel on Monday said they are ready for alliance talks with the Congress. He also clarified that the NCP is not going with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and that there is no reason for this decision.
Patel was speaking at the NCP’s two-day conclave organised at Karjat, around 60 km from Mumbai, to discuss the party’s future strategies.
“For the Gujarat polls, we are ready for talks with the Congress. If we contest separately, we both will have to face the damage,” Patel said.
He said the Congress is in a better place in Gujarat this time. “Two years ago, there was no alternative to the BJP in Gujarat, but today, the situation has changed. Although the organisational strength of the Congress is weak as compared to the BJP, the party [Congress] is getting good support from the people,” Patel said in one of the sessions at the conclave.
“I will not predict the poll results, but we can see the situation has mandated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah to campaign in constituencies,” he said.
Patel is likely to meet senior Congress leaders in Gujarat for alliance talks. He left for Gujarat after attending the conclave at Karjat, said a senior party leader, on condition of anonymity.
The NCP has two MLAs in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly. In 2012, the party got seven seats in the seat-sharing arrangement while contesting the elections with the Congress.
The Congress top brass was angry with the NCP for its lack of support during the recent Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat when its candidate Ahmed Patel was struggling to win his seat. One of two NCP MLAs voted for BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput. Though the NCP maintained that the other MLA voted for Patel, the Congress suspected that the NCP actually helped the BJP. It led to bitterness between the two parties and the NCP had threatened to contest all 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly polls.
Referring to this, Patel said one of their MLAs did not vote for the Congress because of personal reasons. Patel said the Congress had troubled him in the past because of which he took that decision. “We were defamed as one of our MLAs did not vote for the Congress candidate in Rajya Sabha polls, but no one is discussing the fact that 14 Congress MLAs have left the party,” Patel said at the conclave.
Further clarifying the NCP’s stand on rumours about joining the NDA, he said party chief Pawar had got an offer in 1999 to join the NDA when Atal Behari Vajpayee was prime minister. “He [Pawar] would have got the number two position in the Vajpayee government, but he chose to remain with the Congress then. Hence, there is no question of the NCP joining the NDA now. Taking some decision at a local level does not mean we are joining the NDA,” the NCP leader said.