Maharashtra Congress leaders more concerned about ally NCP than Opposition
New Delhi: Congress MPs from Maharashtra on Monday opposed a suggestion of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly at a meeting with party vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Sources said that economist-turned-politician Bhalchandra Mungekar mooted the idea of simultaneous polls but Gurudas Kamat and some other members of the Lok Sabha expressed strong opposition to it.
Gandhi gave signals that the Congress can compromise to a limit while dealing with the NCP, its ally of 15 years in Maharashtra, and indicated that the party was being revamped to make it fighting fit for the Lok Sabha elections.
The indication came at a meeting with party MPs from Maharashtra who cautioned about NCP expanding its base far and wide. A section of MPs also told Gandhi that the Congress cannot trust its alliance partner as NCP chief Sharad Pawar can spring a surprise at the last moment, sources said.
Some members felt that Pawar`s party will not rock the UPA boat in the Lok Sabha elections but it cannot be relied upon for the assembly elections scheduled four months after the Parliamentary polls.
An MP`s remark that NCP was discussed more than opposition BJP-Shiv Sena alliance was a telling commentary on the state of relations between the two parties which are together at the Centre since May 2004.
Some MPs also utilised the occasion to convey their displeasure over the style of functioning of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan while some said that the Chief Minister has brought the NCP on the backfoot.
A section of party MPs feel that if the Congress and NCP alliance continues it could help the party at a time when there have been efforts in opposition camp to have a broader alliance involving the Shiv Sena-BJP as also MNS.
The meeting also saw Gandhi expressing his disapproval over giving election tickets to late entrants from other parties which affects the morale of loyal workers and also does not benefit the organisation electorally.
Suresh Kalmadi, a Lok Sabha member from Pune who has been suspended from the party over graft allegations, was not present. It was not immediately clear whether he was invited or not.
On the other hand Sadashivrao Mandlik, a former NCP member who won as an Independent from Kolhapur, was present at the meeting which lasted for two hours.
Baliram Jadhav of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, an ally of the Congress, Marutrao Kowase, Jaywantrao Awale, Datta Meghe and Suresh Taware (all Cong) had a separate meeting with Gandhi.
Jadhav is leart to have apprised Gandhi of his grievances related to the Railway Budget.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Congress had secured 17 and NCP eight out of 48 seats in the state. In the Assembly polls later, Congress had won 82 seats while the NCP 62 in the 288-member House.
The state NCP has already started laying claim on Pune Lok Sabha seat currently represented by Kalmadi.
Congress and NCP are ruling Maharashtra in an alliance since 1999 just a few months after Pawar parted ways with the Congress on the issue of foreign origin of Sonia Gandhi.
The two parties are sharing power at the Centre since May 2004 when Sonia Gandhi led UPA to power ousting the BJP-led NDA.
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