Why allow NCP to grow at Cong’s cost,Sawant asks Chavan

Stating that the shape of the party’s alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party will adversely impact the strength of the Congress in Mumbai in the long run,Congressman Ajit Sawant has written to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asking why the NCP was being allowed to grow in Mumbai at the cost of the Congress.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:January 25, 2012 3:04 am

Stating that the shape of the party’s alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will adversely impact the strength of the Congress in Mumbai in the long run,Congressman Ajit Sawant has written to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asking why the NCP was being allowed to grow in Mumbai at the cost of the Congress.

Referring to the 19 seats where the Congress finished second in the 2007 municipal corporation polls and which have now been given to the NCP to contest,he said the margin of loss in many of these seats was very small,making them eminently winnable for Congress candidates this time.

The Mumbai Region Congress Committee (MRCC) member has also raised the issue of senior Congress leaders,including legislators and Members of Parliament,lobbying for seats for their relatives — admittedly one of the biggest causes of discontent within party members in Mumbai.

“Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s ambition is not hidden to anyone and in spite of that we have allowed the NCP to grow on the basis of our strongholds,” Sawant told Newsline. “I believe a prepoll alliance is a must,it gives us the best chance of winning this crucial election. But the way it has been done will lead to disgruntlement among Congress workers and,in the long run,will lead to the party losing its dominance in Mumbai.”

The Congress now plays second fiddle to the NCP in various areas that were once traditional Congress strongholds,he said in his letter,citing areas such as Anushakti Nagar (now held by NCP MLA Nawab Malik) and Mumbra-Kausa in Thane (now held by NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad),once Congress-dominated regions which the NCP has nurtured well over the past few years.

Stating that if seats where the Congress finished second in 2007 had to be given to the NCP,the leadership should have selected those that had a large margin of loss and cited the example of ward No 173 in Wadala that has been given to the NCP. “One seat in Dharavi that the Congress lost by a margin of over 2,000 votes in 2007 has been retained for the party. MP Eknath Gaikwad wants to protect his daughter Varsha’s MLA constituency there,” Sawant said.

Calling for the CM’s attention to the fact that no preparations have been made for the selection of candidates,he said the process will be no more than an eyewash. “There is no interview panel,no arrangements or time left for interviews. They’ll do two-minute interviews of the candidates. It appears as if they have already finalised the names,” he said.

The Congress has received over 1,450 forms from aspiring candidates for the 169 seats it will contest in the BMC polls on February 16. The process of scrutiny of the forms begins on Wednesday.

Meanwhile,MP Gurudas Kamat,former Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and Communication and IT,appealed to Congress and NCP workers not to file nomination papers against the official alliance candidates. Kamat,who had raised the issue of disgruntlement among Congress workers during seat-sharing discussions with the NCP in a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi,said on Tuesday that all workers should work to ensure that official nominees of the Congress-NCP alliance emerge victorious.

Regarding disgruntled workers who may contest as rebels,he said this would be “unfortunate”. “Such workers should not get encouraged by any Congress leader,” Kamat said.

He also said that Congress rebels who stood against official party candidates in earlier elections should not be given party nomination to discourage rebellion and as a warning to potential rebels.

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