Signalling a strain in the NCP-Congress relationship in the run-up to local body polls in Maharashtra, senior NCP leader Praful Patel Monday blamed the Congress for the debacle in the 2014 Assembly polls. The remark sparked a strong reaction from the Congress’s state unit, which said it was an attempt to keep the ruling BJP in “good humour”.
Speaking to party workers in Akola, Patel said: “ The Congress sank and also took us down.”
He further alleged, “In the name of scams, Congress leaders like Prithviraj Chavan tried to malign the image of NCP. But there were no scams. It was just politics to undermine the NCP…They sank and they also took us down. But, we are not that weak. We will not drown, we know how to swim. We will bounce back with all our strength and we will prove that NCP is not less than anyone.”
Reacting to the attack, Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “NCP’s criticism against the Congress is to maintain good equation with ruling BJP led by PM Narendra Modi. NCP is afraid that the BJP government will take action against their alleged corruption. So, they want to show their support to Modi.”
In Delhi, AICC spokesperson Manish Tewari said the party was ascertaining facts from the NCP leader and added that if it was a state-centric comment, then the state party unit would respond to it.
A source said: “The NCP is upset as the Congress has not accepted their demand for alliances in the local body elections.”
Last week a meeting of state Congress and NCP leaders discussed the alliance for the local body polls. While the Congress reportedly demanded equal share in local bodies, this was apparently not acceptable to NCP.