Gujarat Assembly polls: NCP decides to go it alone after talks with Congress fail

Congress did not seem serious, kept delaying decision, said senior NCP leader Praful Patel, who announced the party’s decision on Monday

mumbai Updated: Nov 20, 2017 15:24 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Senior NCP leader Praful Patel announced the decision on Monday morning after discussions with the Congress failed.(HT File)

With just a day left to file nominations for the first phase of.the Gujarat Assembly elections, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has decided to contest solo. Senior NCP leader Praful Patel announced the decision on Monday morning after discussions for an alliance with the Congress failed.

“We wanted to contest the polls in Gujarat with the Congress. Talks were going on for the past 20 days, but the Congress did not seem serious, and kept delaying the decision, thus leaving us with no option but to fight on our own,” Patel told HT.

Party sources said the NCP got upset after the Congress announced a candidate from Kutiyana constituency in Porbandar, which is currently with the NCP; its sitting MLA is Kandhal Jadeja.

On Sunday evening, in its first list of 70 candidates, the Congress declared Vejabhai Modedara as its candidate from Kutiyana.

By announcing a candidate for the NCP-held seat, the Congress made it clear that it is not interested in an alliance with the NCP, said a senior leader, on condition of anonymity. “Tuesday is the last day for filing nominations, so we cannot wait anymore to finalise talks,” he said.

The NCP has two MLAs in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly. In 2012, the party had won seven seats in a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress.

NCP sources said that on Sunday morning, Pawar had a telephonic conversation with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi about forging an alliance, wherein the NCP demanded 11 seats.

The Congress top brass is upset with the NCP for breaking ranks during the recent Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, where one of the two NCP MLAs voted for BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput instead of its Ahmed Patel. Though the NCP said the other MLA voted for Patel, the Congress suspects that the NCP actually helped the BJP. This led to bitterness between the two parties, which in turn affected talks.

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 15:16 IST