Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday ruled out a merger with the Congress and downplayed the suggestion for the same made by Ratnakar Mahajan, senior party member and close associate of NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
The state party president, Madhukar Pichad told media that the party did not think the letter and the suggestion by Mahajan was not worth any cognisance. He said that he had spoken to Pawar, who is currently abroad, about Mahajan’s letter and the NCP chief had disapproved of the letter and its contents.
“Pawar said that the letter is not worth taking any cognisance. If the letter had been written to us, we could have discussed it at a forum but the action of leaking it to the media reeks of an intention to hurt the party and spreading confusion among the ranks,’’ said Pichad.
Home minister and senior NCP leader R R Patil, who was also present at the press conference at the party office in Nariman Point taunted Mahajan, founding member of the party, also known as its ideologue.
“When he headed the state planning board, he did not question the party’s separate identity. Now, just because party has not given him a post, he is doing this. It is wrong. The question of merger does not arise,’’ said Patil.
Though Pichad said no action was being taken against Mahajan, Patil said that the rebel was free to merge with any party he desired.
Mahajan had written to Pawar on Monday calling for serious introspection on the party’s identity and its failure to establish a separate ideological, political or cultural base from the Congress.
The rebellion has surprised many in the political circles, given Mahajan’s proximity to Pawar.
NCP sources claimed that Mahajan had sought to be the party’s spokesperson and was angry at being refuted.
Mahajan told HT that he had raised “ideological issues’’, which he had also raised in 1999 after Congress and NCP brokered power to form government then.
“I have not said anything negative about the party. I have pointed out that Congress and NCP should come together to keep communal forces at bay. And, that NCP has no real separate identity.’’