Hours after electoral victory, MVA partners begin bickering
The squabbling began with NCP leader Ajit Pawar sympathising with rebel Congressman Satyajeet Tambe—who has been expelled for six years for contesting the recent council elections as an independent—and advising the Congress to re-admit him into the party fold.
Mumbai: A day after winning three out of five legislative council seats, the opposition Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) should have been celebrating its victory. Instead, the three parties in the coalition chose to indulge in bickering and one-upmanship.
The squabbling began with NCP leader Ajit Pawar sympathising with rebel Congressman Satyajeet Tambe—who has been expelled for six years for contesting the recent council elections as an independent—and advising the Congress to re-admit him into the party fold. He also spoke about the split in the Shiv Sena.
“The whispers about the possibility of a rebellion in the Sena reached us a couple of times,” said Ajit at an event organised by Marathi news channel News18 Lokmat. “We told Uddhav about this, and even Sharad Pawar telephoned him and met him to discuss it. But Uddhav said he had full faith in his MLAs. No effort was made to keep others united even after the rebellion by the first group of 15 or 16 MLAs. The blind faith by the leadership was destroyed by the rebel group of Shiv Sena MLAs.”
Ajit then spoke about Tambe’s contesting as an independent. “Pawar saheb had telephoned Mallikarjun Kharge at that time (before declaring the candidature) and told him that going by his experience, the party should select Satyajeet as its candidate and close the chapter here,” he said. “I also am of the view that the Congress should not stretch the matter and Satyajeet should also forget whatever has happened and work as a Congress-supported legislator.”
The Congress was quick to express its disconcertion at Ajit’s statement. “In the MVA government, the NCP was handling the home department. They could have stopped the MLAs who rebelled. Why was it not done then?” said Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole, adding, however, that this was not the appropriate time for a blame game. “We don’t want to bring the past back or blame anyone for what happened last year,” he said.
Hours later, the MVA leaders failed to reach a decision on contesting the assembly bypolls scheduled on February 27. “The Congress wants to contest from the Kasba Peth constituency whereas the NCP and Shiv Sena are both interested in the Chinchwad seat. The NCP also said that it has more strength than the Congress in the Kasba Peth constituency. It was later decided that the three parties will discuss the issue and decide who will fight from which seat,” said a senior leader privy to the development.
“We have reviewed the status of both seats. We want to take other alliance partners such as the Peasants and Workers Party and Samajwadi Party into confidence, after which an announcement will be made on Saturday,” said Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil in a media interaction after the meeting.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Subhash Desai said that the parties had decided to contest the polls together as the MVA coalition. “Every party and its workers want to contest on every seat,” he said in response to claims on the Chinchwad seat. “But to us the MVA’s victory is more important.”