Why NCP is averse to merger talks with Congress just before polls?
NCP chief Sharad Pawar slammed Sushilkumar Shinde for suggesting that two parties will unify in future saying it is only his sole discretion to make decisions and speak about his party’s futureUpdated: Oct 10, 2019 16:37 IST
Senior Congressman Sushilkumar Shinde’s remarks about the merger of the NCP in the Congress, barely two weeks before the Maharashtra assembly elections, has triggered sharp reactions from NCP leaders.
On Tuesday, Shinde had said in Solapur that leaders from both parties were “tired” and merger was “inevitable”.
Reacting to this, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar described this as the Congress leader’s personal opinion and said that none other than NCP chief will decide on the issue of merger.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar also slammed Shinde for suggesting that two parties will unify in future saying it is only his sole discretion to make decisions and speak about his party’s future.
“Congress and NCP are working together in an alliance in the state. Sushil Kumar Shinde can present Congress’s views but not of the NCP. I am the national president of NCP and nobody knows the status of my party better than me,” Pawar told reporters at a press conference here.
Pawar was speaking on the comment made by Shinde earlier on Tuesday where the latter said that Congress and NCP will unify in the future.
Seen as the second most important leader in the NCP after party president Sharad Pawar, Ajit has not been keen on a merger, an issue that is being discussed in recent days ever since NCP’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.
In his speech at a public rally in Solapur, Shinde had said, “We may be separate (parties) today. But in future, we will come together. The two parties have to come together as both are tired. Both parties grew up on the same mother’s lap. While we regret (about separation), I am sure they also have the same feeling even as they don’t admit it.”
The talks of a Congress-NCP merger ahead of polls, feel Ajit Pawar and other party leaders, will only obfuscate workers trying hard to regain lost ground. “Sushilkumar Shinde is a senior leader of the Congress but the comments he has made are his personal opinion. We are going for elections and there is no need for any confusion with such talks,” said Ajit Pawar.
The former deputy chief minister, according to other leaders within the NCP, is keen on maintaining a separate identity for the party as a merger would lead to more desertions in the organisation. The NCP has already seen many desertions, resulting in senior Pawar fighting a lonely battle.
Founded by Sharad Pawar in 1999, the NCP has spent 15 out of 20 years of its existence enjoying power at various levels ranging from major local bodies to the state and central governments. It is now in an unchartered territory.
In the 2014 assembly polls, the NCP had won 41 seats and the Congress, 42 out of 288 seats. The two parties faced a drubbing during the recently-held Lok Sabha polls with the Congress winning only one seat and the NCP, four out of 48 seats. Between the two if NCP’s performance better than Congress, why will former would like to merge itself with latter instead of positioning itself as another powerful option?, asked political observer Abhay Deshpande.
“Many in NCP feel they have a better chance than the Congress in the upcoming polls. Under such circumstances talks on merger will on one hand confuse the workers and the party may face serious consequences. At the same time, NCP doesn’t want to go with Congress which they see as baggage at this point due to latter’s status in state politics,” said Deshpande.
It was for a brief four-and-half years between 1995 to 1999, that Pawar and his associates, as a part of the united Congress, were out of power as the Shiv Sena, in alliance with BJP, ruled the state. Pawar was then in his 50s and the Congress hoped to come back to power soon as the mood in the state had quickly changed.
The last five years have been a phase that most Congress and NCP leaders have been unfamiliar with as the socio-political equations in the state have drastically changed. If the defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 10 municipal corporations in the 2017 civic polls is followed by another drubbing in the assembly polls, party leaders, who are used to enjoying power, are bound to be disheartened by the bleak future ahead. This has disincentivised many in the Congress, whose leaders are keen for the NCP to be merged in it.
First Published: Oct 09, 2019 16:02 IST