A day after getting the BJP's support to its no-trust motion for removal of the Maharashtra legislative council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh of the Congress, the NCP on Tuesday said it did not enter into any deal with the saffron party to achieve its goal.
"There was no arrangement of any kind (with BJP, which shares power with Shiv Sena). It was the BJP's prerogative to take a stance on the no-confidence motion," NCP state unit president Sunil Tatkare told reporters at the Vidhan Bhawan in Mumbai.
The no-confidence motion against Deshmukh brought in by the NCP was passed with 45 council members — 28 NCP , 12 BJP and five others supporting it.
"The Congress has supported the insurance bill in the Lok Sabha. Does that mean that the Congress and BJP have come together?" Tatkare said.
"We took a generous approach in 2004 by refraining from claiming the chief minister's post despite winning more seats than Congress. However, without having sufficient numbers, the Congress handed over a letter to Deshmukh before the winter session staking claim for the post of the Leader of the Opposition in the Council," he said.
"Our claim to the post was rejected in a partisan manner. That is why we brought in the no-trust motion against Deshmukh and not that the NCP was hankering after power. It is an illusion created by our friends," he said.
Asked if the NCP still considers Congress as a friendly party, he shot back saying, "It is for the Congress to reply to that question."
"NCP is an independent party. We worked with the Congress for 15 years. But we parted ways before assembly polls. Now, whether to call us friends or not is up to the Congress," he said.
Asked who will be the NCP's candidate as council chairman, Tatkare said, "We will let you know before the date for filing nomination." On the possibility of the NCP staking claim for the vacant post of assembly deputy speaker, Tatkare said, "The tradition, of late, has been that the post goes to someone from the ruling party."
On the tendency of the Congress leaders to take frequent digs at the NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, he said, "The Congress considers those, who criticise Pawar as the most loyal."
"Had Congress shown a bit of wisdom, what has happened could have been avoided. Had they wanted to expose us or get closer to Shiv Sena?" he said.
To a query whether the NCP was getting closer to the BJP was intended to evade corruption probes against NCP leaders including him, Tatkare said, "We are ready to face any inquiry and this (removal of council chairman) has nothing to do with the probe."
"Personally I have respect for Deshmukh. He had helped me get established in politics," Tatkare said.