After Congress talks of going solo, Sena-NCP say they may contest Assembly polls as allies

Days after Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said the party will go solo in the next Assembly polls, the Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said they may forge an alliance for the next Assembly elections
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Published on Jun 18, 2021 12:33 AM IST
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BySwapnil Rawal and Faisal Malik, Mumbai

Days after Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said the party will go solo in the next Assembly polls, the Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said they may forge an alliance for the next Assembly elections.

Sena leader Sanjay Raut said if the NCP and Sena come together to contest polls then there would be miracles in the state. State NCP chief Jayant Patil responded saying his party wants to continue the alliance with the Sena in future. He, however, said he was hopeful that the Congress will reconsider its stand ahead of the polls, even if it is talking about going solo in the polls at present.

The three parties formed a coalition, Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA), that runs the government in Maharashtra. However, so far there is no clear announcement on their future plans — whether they will contest coming municipal and district council elections as a coalition and whether they would be allies in next Assembly elections scheduled in 2024.

Earlier this week, Patole said his party would fight all the forthcoming elections alone. The Congress will be the single-largest party in 2024 Assembly polls, he had said.

Later, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union minister Raosaheb Danve made a statement that his party would also contest the next polls on its own.

“It is good that the BJP and Congress are preparing towards that [going solo]. That leaves two parties, the Sena and NCP, in the state. If everybody else is going solo then these two prominent parties will have to come together in the interest of the state. Statements to this effect have been made by Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana stated on Thursday.

Raut later said that in light of the Congress going solo, the two other parties in the MVA will think about their poll strategy. “In the future, if the two leading parties of Maharashtra, NCP and Sena, come together to contest elections then it can lead to miracles in the state… Both the parties will think about it (pre-poll alliance) in future,” he said.

Patil on Thursday said that even if the Congress chose to take a different path, their alliance with Sena will continue. “MVA comprises three parties and all of them should give priority to remain united. In case one of the parties (Congress) decides to contest the elections on its own, the alliance between the other two will remain intact,” Patil said in response to statements made by the Congress.

He also said the Congress may reconsider its stand ahead of the polls. “May be the state Congress chief is talking like this with an intention to strengthen the party. After all, everyone knows the strength of all the parties; hence the three parties are expected to work with more unity. It is likely that they (Congress) will reconsider its stand ahead of the polls,” the water resources minister said.

In an apparent jibe at Patole, an editorial in Saamana on Thursday said that a party needs to reach the majority mark of 145 to form a government and get the throne. “Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole is a warrior leader. He has announced that his party would fight the next Assembly elections on its own and install a chief minister of the Congress. He has also said that if the party allows, he himself would be the next chief ministerial face. Hence, it is clear that until Patole installs a Congress chief minister in Maharashtra in 2024, he won’t sit quiet,” the editorial said.

It further said Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar stated that the one who gets the support of 145 MLAs will form the government. “Parliamentary democracy is all about majority figures. Those who succeed will be able to occupy the throne,” it added.

The Sena mouthpiece said that the 2024 polls are still far away and asked if there was any plan to hold mid-term polls in the state. “The 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls are still far away, but the major political parties (BJP and Congress) are suddenly talking of contesting the elections independently. Are there any plans to have mid-term polls?” it asked.

Meanwhile, Patole’s predecessor and Maharashtra minister Balasaheb Thorat said the aim of MVA is to keep the BJP away from power and a decision on going solo or an alliance will be taken at an appropriate time. “Every party has the right to expand their party’s base and every party intends to come to power on their strength. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with it. Our stand is that keeping the BJP away from power is in the national interest. Therefore, we will take appropriate decisions at the right time,” Thorat said.

Senior NCP leader and state minister Chhagan Bhujbal said there is still more than three years for the next polls and expressed confidence that all three parties within MVA will contest together. “What Raut has said is that if the Congress goes alone then Sena-NCP can come together. But there is still over three years for the next Assembly polls; by then all the parties in MVA will come together, and like Pawar saheb has said, all will contest together,” said Bhujbal.

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