Sharad Pawar. (HT archive)(HT_PRINT)
Sharad Pawar. (HT archive)(HT_PRINT)

Will go solo in all polls: Maharashtra Congress

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s statement that the state’s three ruling parties will fight polls together, and his meeting with poll strategist Prashant Kishor this week have left one of its alliance partners, the Congress, fuming
By Surendra P Gangan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 14, 2021 01:46 AM IST

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s statement that the state’s three ruling parties will fight polls together, and his meeting with poll strategist Prashant Kishor this week have left one of its alliance partners, the Congress, fuming. The Maharashtra Congress, while reacting sharply to the developments, has said that it will go solo in all the elections that will be held henceforth in Maharashtra, and that its allies should not take the party for granted.

On Thursday, during NCP’s 22nd foundation day celebrations, Pawar had said that the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA), comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, will fight the next Lok Sabha and Assembly polls together. He also said that MVA will complete its term and hailed Sena for its past records of standing firm on its commitments on political support. A day after the statement, Pawar and other party leaders met Kishor at the NCP chief’s Mumbai residence, leading to speculations of political developments in the state and the country.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik’s statement on Saturday fuelled the speculations further, prompting Congress to react.

“There is a need to form a formidable alliance of Opposition parties against the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) at national level, ahead of the next general elections. Pawarsaheb had himself spoken about the need to have such a national alliance and had said that he would try to bring together all such forces,” Malik said.

Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said that his party would fight all the forthcoming elections alone.

“We already have announced that we will go solo in all forthcoming local body elections, likely to be held from November, and thereafter the Assembly polls too. We do not want to keep our allies in the dark and ditch them ahead of the polls. We are preparing to go solo and they too are free to do so. The Congress will be the single-largest party in 2024 Assembly polls,” he said.

Party’s working president Arif Naseem Khan said that the party will benefit if the local elections are fought on its own.

“It will also help in regaining the old glory when the party used to form the government in the state singlehandedly. Patole’s statement is the party’s official stand,” he said.

Malik, while reacting to statements by Congress leaders, on Sunday said that there were no talks held between the three ruling parties.

“Patole aspires to become the chief minister of Maharashtra, and the statement has come out of it [his ambition]. Every party has the right to spread its wings and such statements are necessary to keep the morale of the workers high. The MVA alliance is ruling unitedly by taking decisions close to the heart of the people. We may fight the local body elections by forming an alliance of three or two ruling parties, or even separately, depending on the political situations at the local level. There are no talks held about the Lok Sabha or Assembly elections for the alliance yet,” he said.

The contradictory statements have led to speculations over the differences between the three ruling parties. The Congress, since the government was formed in November 2019, has been complaining about secondary treatment by its allies. Party leaders feel that the Sena and NCP have been on the same page when it comes to keeping the Congress out of the decision-making process.

More than 15 municipal corporations (including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane), 29 of 36 district councils and over 90 municipal councils will go for polls over the next 20 months. The election bandwagon to these local bodies in such a huge number is considered as the mini assembly polls. NCP and Shiv Sena are likely to join hands in most of the local body elections by keeping the Congress out.

BJP leader Ram Kadam said that the contradictory statements by Congress and NCP indicate the differences between the ruling parties.

“It is a proven fact now that the Congress is not happy with CM Uddhav Thackeray and hence, they have been talking about going solo. It needs to be understood if Congress’ anger is out of the differences between them or because the other two parties are grabbing major share of power,” he said.

Malik said it would be wrong to draw conclusions over their statements.

Political analyst Pratap Asbe said, “The decision over the alliance in elections is taken by Congress’ central leadership. There is no meaning to what the state leaders of the party say. They keep saying things to keep the leadership happy. As far as the question of putting up an alliance of Opposition parties against BJP at national level is concerned, it all depends on the stand taken by Congress,” he said.

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