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NCP-Cong may not be statewide allies

It is unlikely that the two partners in the state’s ruling alliance, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, will have a statewide tie-up for the upcoming civic and district body elections, which are being touted as mini-assembly polls.

mumbai Updated: Nov 08, 2011 01:32 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

It is unlikely that the two partners in the state’s ruling alliance, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, will have a statewide tie-up for the upcoming civic and district body elections, which are being touted as mini-assembly polls.

NCP chief and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who held a meeting on Monday with his ministers to discuss the election strategy for the upcoming polls, has left the decision to having a pre-poll alliance with the Congress largely to local leaders.

The partners, who have been running the state government together for more than a decade, share and uneasy relationship and both are looking to expand their base.

Sources in the NCP said that the decision of having a coalition would depend on the understanding between local Congress and NCP leaders and would not be foisted from the top.

In a majority of the big municipal corporation, NCP would prefer to go solo. For instance, an alliance would be unlikely in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune, Mumbai, but a coalition would be worked out in Nasik and Thane.

“The meeting was to discuss election strategy. The NCP chief wanted feedback from party ministers, guardian ministers about the relative strength of the party in a district, to take a call on the alliance strategy,” said Madan Bafna, party spokesperson.

In western Maharashtra, the NCP bastion, the party is unlikely to forge an alliance with the Congress. However, in Konkan, parts of Vidarbha and

Thane, NCP is keen on an alliance.

The party has called for a separate meeting to discuss its election strategy for Mumbai, though preliminary reports are against going for an alliance in the city.

“We will opt for an alliance where both parties can benefit and are willing. We don’t want to bargain or plead with Congress. The party wants to keep Opposition at bay, but in many cases Congress is our traditional rival,” said a senior minister requesting anonymity.