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Maharashtra Congress chief alleges NCP wants to ‘finish-off’ the party

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Tensions between allies Congress and NCP continue to simmer as Patole complains to party high command

 
Tensions between allies Congress and NCP continue to simmer as Patole complains to party high command

Tensions between the Maharashtra government allies Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) continued to simmer, with Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole accusing the latter of trying to “finish-off” the Congress and aid the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since the inception of the three-party ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (MVA) coalition in late 2019.

Mr. Patole further said that he had conveyed instances of the NCP’s ‘treachery’ to the Congress’ high command during the recently-concluded three-day Chintan Shivir of the Congress in Udaipur in Rajasthan.

“The way in which the NCP has been behaving with the Congress for the last two-and-a-half years since the MVA’s formation, be it showing discrimination in the allocation of funds or poaching the Congress members to the NCP in the Bhiwandi civic body, the trouble they have caused during the Amravati bank election or the Bhandara-Gondia Zilla Parishad election. It looks like they have been consistently attempting to stamp out the Congress at the local and the State level,” alleged the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief, observing that the three-party MVA ought to run on ideas and not merely for holding on to power.

Mr. Patole further alleged that the NCP was helping the BJP to grow by weakening the Congress, which shares power with the Shiv Sena and the NCP in the tripartite MVA.

“When this government was formed, it was done so on the rationale to stop the BJP. But if NCP is supporting the BJP, then this is an insult to [Congress President] Sonia Gandhi and we will not tolerate this. We have communicated all the problems the NCP has caused for us and a decision on this will be taken by the high command in a few days,” said the MPCC chief.

He, however, refused to comment on Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s style of functioning, remarking that the intention was not to target any individual within the NCP.

A war of words has erupted between Mr. Patole and Ajit Pawar ever since the NCP covertly allied with the BJP in the Bhandara-Gondia ZP election.

Mr. Pawar, who is aggressively expanding the NCP’s base in Pune district and elsewhere in his capacity as Pune Guardian Minister and the State’s Finance Minister, had rebuked Mr. Patole about the latter’s past when he was with the BJP as an MP from Bhandara-Gondia. Mr. Patole had joined the Congress in early 2018.

“There is no need to worry about my political background. I have never betrayed anyone. When I had resigned [from the BJP], I did so upfront and without recourse to any skullduggery,” Mr. Patole said, alluding to Ajit Pawar’s morning oath taking ceremony alongside former BJP CM Devendra Fadnavis in 2019.

Soon after the conclusion of the Maharashtra Assembly elections in October 2019, Mr. Pawar had startled the State with his intra-party ‘rebellion’ when he staged a coup on the morning of November 23 and was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister, with Mr. Fadnavis taking oath as Chief Minister. However, after NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s iron hand had prevailed and the party failed to split despite his nephew’s (Ajit Pawar) temporary defection, the junior Pawar had resigned as Deputy Chief Minister in less than 80 hours only to be sworn-in again as Deputy CM in the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA just a few days later.

Meanwhile, responding to Mr. Patole, Ajit Pawar said that it was the MPCC chief’s right to say whatever he wanted to his superiors.  

“There is no need to give too much importance to what Nana Patole tells his superiors… We also complain to Pawar saheb or [Chief Minister] Uddhav Thackeray on occasion… Our country has seen a 24-party National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP and the 15-party United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress in the past. There were big coordination problems there so it is not surprising tehre are problems in a three-party coalition [MVA government] here. But leaders of these parties ensure that the three vessels [Shiv Sena, NCP. Congress] do not collide,” said Deputy Chief Minister, speaking in Satara.

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