The Congress and the NCP have decided to join hands to target the BJP-led government ahead of the monsoon session. At a meeting on Tuesday night, leaders of both the parties decided to put aside their differences and exploit the cracks within the Fadnavis government.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil of the Congress told The Indian Express, “Unless we join hands, we don’t have impressive numbers in the Assembly and Council. If we have to make a mark against the BJP-led government, a united opposition is a must.”
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The Congress (42) and NCP (41) together have 83 MLAs in the house of 288. The BJP (122) and Shiv Sena (63), the ruling parties, together have 185 MLAs.
The NCP is represented by leader of opposition in stage council Dhananjay Munde, who apparently exposed the “chikki scam” against his estranged cousin, Minister for Women and Child Welfare Pankaja Munde.
At the meeting, NCP was represented by Ajit Pawar (known to be a rival of Vikhe-Patil), state party chief Sunil Tatkare and former home and finance minister Jayant Patil. From the Congress it was former chief minister and MPCC president Ashok Chavan, former MPCC president Manikrao Thakre and Vikhe-Patil.
A source in the Congress said, “The NCP’s dilemma is that senior ministers are facing charges of corruption. Whether it is Chhagan Bhujbal, Tatkare, or Ajit Pawar, they are facing Anti-Corruption Bureau investigation.
NCP president Sharad Pawar is a national leader who cannot participate in daily developments in the state. That leaves only Jayant Patil and former speaker and minister Dilip Walse Patil to lead the Assembly.”
When it comes to the Congress, apart from Ashok Chavan, who was charged in the Adarsh housing scam, none of them is facing any corruption probe.
Political managers in the NCP admitted, “Getting Congress on board was not easy. There were ifs and buts as both are working to get ahead of the other in Maharashtra.”
During the meeting, Congress leaders raised the issue of NCP working against them in the local bodies elections. However, Ajit Pawar argued that the past should be set aside for a common purpose, to which Vikhe-Patil and others agreed.