NCP splits with Congress after 15 years, to fight Maharashtra polls alone

After days of uncertainty, the NCP on Thursday called off its 15-year-old alliance with the grand old Congress party in the poll-bound Maharashtra.

NCP splits with Congress after 15 years, to fight Maharashtra polls alone

Mumbai: After days of uncertainty, the NCP on Thursday called off its 15-year-old alliance with the grand old Congress party in the poll-bound Maharashtra.

Soon after the BJP made it official that it will go alone in the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the NCP held a press conference here and declared that the party, led by Sharad Pawar, has decided to snap ties with the Congress.

NCP leader Praful Patel told reporters that there has to be a secular government in Maharashtra. He told that the NCP will contest the upcoming polls in Maharashtra independently and will try to take support of other secular and like-minded parties.

"For past 15 years NCP has been with the Congress, both in Maharashtra and at the Centre. In 1999, when NCP was established, the circumstances were such that the government in Maharashtra could not be formed without coalition, so as we always advocated secular ideology we went ahead to tie-up with Congress party. In the past 15 years, the NCP supported the Congress responsibly.

"In the past 15 years, Congress always got the seat of the chief minister in the state. But this time Sharad Pawar met with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and told her that NCP wants to continue alliance with the party," Patel said at the press conference.

The NCP leader said that Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Manikrao Thakre said Congress will offer 124 seats to our party, but this is not acceptable to us. "We told the Congress that it has been occupying that chief minister's post for last 15 years and it is now time that it should share it," Patel said.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, in the conference, blamed Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for the split, saying that the NCP never neglected by earlier Congress CMs.

There was deadlock between both Congress and NCP over the equal seat-sharing issue for the assembly polls in the state and proposal of equally sharing tenure for chief minister's post.

As a result of the alliance breakup, Pawar will be meeting with the state governor on Friday to hand over letter of withdrawal of support to the government.

While Prithviraj Chavan addressing the media after the alliance break-up said, "We (Congress) have worked out our previous disputes in the interest of the people, but they (NCP) took this decision for personal benefits."

The chief minister, after the breakup of the alliance, also announced that the Congress will fight the upcoming assembly elections with Samajwadi Party.

The NCP was firm on its demand for half the Assembly seats - 144 - in the Oct 15 Maharashtra Assembly elections to continue the alliance with the Congress.

NCP had rejected Congress's proposal that it put up candidates for 124 seats, or 10 more than the 114 which it had contested in 2009.

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