Maharashtra Congress open to NCP working out an ‘understanding’ with MNS | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Maharashtra Congress open to NCP working out an ‘understanding’ with MNS

Speculation is rife that the NCP will join hands with the MNS ahead of the general elections in 2019

mumbai Updated: Mar 20, 2018 12:00 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Sharad Pawar and Raj Thackeray moved closer last month when the latter interviewed the NCP chief in Pune.
Sharad Pawar and Raj Thackeray moved closer last month when the latter interviewed the NCP chief in Pune.(HT FILE)

The state unit of the Congress is reacting cautiously over the political hobnobbing between Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS )chief Raj Thackeray. Though the Congress has expressed its reservations over taking the MNS on board, it may not object to the NCP working out an understanding with the latter, said a senior party leader, on the condition of anonymity.

A day after the meeting between Pawar and Thackeray on Saturday, the latter had slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. Speculation is rife that the NCP will join hands with the MNS ahead of the general elections in 2019 in order to gain politically in cities like Mumbai, Thane and Nashik.

“We are happy that one more regional party has joined the combine against the NDA government, but it would be difficult for us to join hands openly with the MNS for ideological differences. MNS has been up in arms against the north Indians since its inception 11 years ago and it is against our ideology. Having any truck with MNS can affect us in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even in Mumbai. The north Indian voters in Mumbai have already parted ways in 2014 elections and subsequent civic polls. If the NCP is keen on forging an alliance with us, the MNS could be a bone of contention,” said a senior state leader.

However, the leader also said the MNS could not be as ‘untouchable’ for the party as the Shiv Sena as it has never adopted an anti-Muslim stance.

A section of Congress leaders are also of the opinion that some understanding between NCP and MNS could be tolerable. “There is possibility of the NCP allotting a few seats to the MNS from its quota that is finalised during seat sharing between us. In that case, the MNS would not be part of the alliance but the partner of the NCP,” another Congress leader said on the condition of anonymity.

However, state Congress chief Ashok Chavan said, “It will be too premature to comment on the alliance at this juncture. But we have serious reservations about Raj Thackeray’s political stand.”

NCP leader Dilip Valse Patil said, “It would be too early to comment upon the meeting. The decisions over Congress and NCP will be done at the appropriate time.”

Pawar and Thackeray moved closer last month when the latter interviewed the NCP chief in Pune. Pawar had supported Thackeray’s stand on safeguarding the Marathi manoos in the state and curbing the infiltration of outsiders in the state.