NCP can go it alone in 2012 local body polls: Pawar

Mumbai: The NCP has the option of contesting the upcoming local bodies elections on its own despite its stand that secular votes should not be divided, party chief Sharad Pawar said on Thursday.

In 2007 too, both Congress and NCP did not have a pre-poll alliance for the local bodies elections, Pawar told reporters here.

"If our allies want to go separate ways for local bodies polls, it is their right and we cannot insist otherwise. Our party will get an opportunity to contest all seats and we are making preparations on that front. I am not aware what is the current stand of Congress on the issue of alliance," he said.

Earlier in the day, the Agricultural Minister met senior leaders from the state and Mumbai unit of NCP and discussed the political situation in the metropolis where civic polls will be held in early 2012.

Factionalism in the party was also discussed and several office bearers demanded that the current city unit president Narendra Varma be replaced, party sources said.

NCP had put five MLCs from Mumbai in charge of five Lok Sabha constituencies and Sanjay Patil, MP from Mumbai North East will look after his constituency in terms of disbursement of funds to carry out development works in wards where party candidates had finished second in 2007 civic polls.

The five MLCs and Patil gave their report on the party's strengths and weaknesses in Mumbai.

Addressing NCP women workers Pawar stressed the need to train women, who are aspiring to contest local bodies polls.

Pawar also said NCP will celebrate its 12th foundation day on June 10 by organising a 'Social justice conference' in Mumbai and has the party has decided to dedicate the day by raising its voice for oppressed sections of the society.

"A committee headed by state unit president Madhukar Pichad will look into various state and central government laws meant for the uplift of backward classes and suggest what corrective measures need to be taken to improve the schemes.

The committee will also study programmes and policies of other states before preparing a report and submitting it to Maharashtra government and Centre," Pawar said.

The NCP leader denied that the focus on backward classes had anything to do with the local bodies polls.

Pawar said Maharashtra under his leadership as Chief Minister was the first to implement the 33 per cent reservation for women in local bodies, and the mandal commission recommendations.

We also renamed the Marathwada university after dalit icon B R Ambedkar, he said, adding "We were the first to come out with a women's policy in the early 90s. All this was done not for electoral gains. Most of the time there were losses."