In mayoral tug-of-war,NCP stands its ground

Likely partnership between the NCP and Congress in the Pune Municipal Corporation seems to be on uneasy terrain.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune | Published: February 27, 2012 2:06 am

Cong seeks standing committee,education board posts,too

Even before they join hands,the likely partnership between the NCP and Congress in the Pune Municipal Corporation seems to be on uneasy terrain. This has become evident after the Congress insisted the NCP should give the mayoral post to its candidate. In its riposte,the NCP has told the Congress leaders “to simply forget it”.

The Congress has not only demanded the mayoral post,but is also pressing for standing committee posts and chairmanship of the educaton board. Despite not being able to match the NCP’s strength (51 corporators),the Congress’ temerity to ferret out the maximum has drawn jeers from the city NCP leadership.

“We have pointblank told the Congress that there is no question of giving mayorship to them,” said city NCP chief Vandana Chavan. The first round of meeting between the NCP,which has emerged as the single largest party and the Congress,which has won 28 wards,was held on Saturday. Since there was no consensus,the two parties decided to hold more rounds of talks to seal the alliance,which now apparently teeters on the edge.

NCP leaders said at the meeting that the Congress struck an extreme posture and was trying to gain the maximum advantage. However,the NCP remained unrelenting and told Congress leaders that as they lacked the numbers,they were not in a position to dictate terms.

When contacted,Congress city leader Abhay Chhajed said they had demanded proportionate representation to the party. “We hope they would consider our demand,” he said.

Chhajed refused to specify,but Chavan said Congress was demanding that mayoral post,which an appointee is supposed to hold for one-and-a-half years,should be shared. “They demanded that the NCP can have the post first for a year-and-a-half,then a Congress nominee should be appointed,” said Chavan.

Clearly spelling out that key posts — mayor and standing committee chairman in PMC — would remain with NCP,Chavan said the Congress may get deputy mayor’s and other committee posts. “This is yet to be decided. But in no way we will give crucial portfolios to Congress,” she said.

After the 2007 elections,similar arguments had erupted between the NCP and Congress. Without allowing the “headache” to aggravate,the NCP quickly embraced the saffron alliance and shared the power with them before it fell apart. This time,too,the NCP has kept the option of keeping a window open for Raj Thackeray-led MNS. However,wary of Raj Thackeray’s popularity shooting up,the NCP is veering around to the thought that a Suresh Kalmadi-less Congress is a better option “as it would not put spokes in the development plans mooted by the NCP”.

Both Congress and NCP leaders said they would keep holding dialogues to arrive at a consensus in PMC. “The Congress is a toned down version of what it was in 2007. Congress leaders told us that they would provide outside support even if we don’t give them any posts,” said a senior NCP leader.

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