On the eve of the Sangli civic polls, allies Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have turned foes with the former making a frontal attack on NCP senior leader and rural development minister Jayant Patil.
Congress state unit president Manikrao Thakre, at a public rally on Wednesday, alleged that Patil was keen on joining his party and had several times made this petition to the party high command.
Patil, who hails from Sangli, is leading the NCP’s civic campaign.
“Patil has several times petitioned Sonia Gandhi to get him in the Congress... so this twofaced stance of criticising the Congress before the polls doesn’t work,” said Thakre.
Patil has rubbished these allegations, claiming they were an attempt by the Congress to vitiate NCP’s campaign. “This is an attempt by the Congress to bring disrepute to me and create confusion before the polls. They know we are in a clear position to win,” he said.
He denied discussing the issue with Gandhi and said he had no interest in joining the Congress. He said he was planning to lodge a complaint with state Election Commission against Thakre for violating of code of conduct by making such allegations.
Thakre’s comment, made in front of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, is an indication of the unease between the two allies that plan to contest the 2014 polls together. Chavan didn’t mention the NCP but appealed to voters to not vote for “goons”.
“At every opportunity, they (the NCP) have tried to backstab us, especially in local polls. We still continue to hold their hand. The decision of the alliance will be taken in Delhi and we will follow it. But we don’t trust them,” said a senior Congress leader.
The NCP fared better than the Congress in the local municipal elections. In a majority of local elections, the allies have been the main rivals.
Meanwhile, NCP spokesman Nawab Malik claimed that Thakre himself was in touch with the NCP leadership and wanted to join the party.