Trouble is brewing in the ruling Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra.
A day after Congress workers told Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Mumbai that they strongly disapproved of the alliance with Sharad Pawar’s party, speculation is rife that the alliance partners would snap ties sooner or later.
The two parties have been in an uneasy alliance since 1999.While there have been regular public spats over issues ranging from local elections to the Centre’s export policy on agricultural products, with state ministers from either side openly criticising their ally, matters came to a head on Wednesday with Union agriculture minister Pawar reportedly complaining to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of CM Prithviraj Chavan’s alleged lack of co-operation with the NCP.
Pawar hinted to Gandhi that the alliance could be in trouble if “corrective measures” were not taken, sources said.
Earlier, Pawar had publicly protested against the Centre’s policy on the export of cotton, sugar and onions.
Congress workers had told Rahul on Friday that the alliance with NCP was limiting the party’s growth. Rahul also did not interrupt when state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said the party should not have a pre-poll alliance in future with the NCP which “has been cheating the Congress”.
Thakre refused to comment on the matter, saying the meeting was a closed-door one. But a senior minister told HT that workers expected the Congress brass to react positively to Thakre’s suggestion because the party’s base was fast eroding in regions where it was stronger before it tied up with the NCP.
“We have been crying foul (against the NCP) for years,
but the high command did not take cognisance of our grievances. We expect something concrete to happen after Rahul Gandhi’s patient hearing,” the minister said.
The NCP, on its part, has alleged that the CM has been trying to weaken the Congress ally. “Our files are not being cleared, and our initiatives on various issues are ignored by the CM,” said an NCP minister.
“It is not just the Congress, we too are not keen on continuing the alliance if the situation remains the same. Our party chief has conveyed our feelings to the Congress president. We will wait for the response,” the minister added.
Senior leaders from both parties said things would be clearer after the presidential polls, which would reveal the clout enjoyed by the UPA and NDA.