Months before the Assembly elections in Maharashtra, the ruling Congress-NCP alliance appears to be headed for turbulent times. With the Congress ruling out the NCP’s demand for half of the Assembly seats, the Sharad Pawar-led party is learnt to be exploring the possibility of forging a grand alliance with the BSP, Samajwadi Party and the Left.
Apart from the BSP, SP and the Left, sources in the NCP indicated that an informal channel of communication has also been opened with Raj Thackeray’s MNS.
Those in the know said it could also be pressure tactics by the NCP to make the Congress accede to its 50:50 seat sharing formula as the two have been together and shared power for 15 years and resolved many hiccups in their ties. The NCP and the Congress have haggled over seat sharing before every Assembly election.
The time-tested relationship aside, NCP sources said a section of its Maharashtra unit is mounting pressure to snap ties with the Congress and instead form a grand alliance. Consequently, the party leadership has reached out to the regional forces which have pockets of influence in Maharashtra. Sources said while Praful Patel has discussed the idea with BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra, Tariq Anwar has done the same with SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav.
Its national general secretary D P Tripathi, who enjoys excellent relations with the likes of CPM’s Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, is learnt to have broached the topic with the Left leadership.
Sources said the BSP has conveyed to the NCP that it was not keen to join the existing Congress-NCP alliance, asking the NCP to part ways with the Congress. “It is no more an idea. We are discussing this with them. Let’s see how is progresses,” a senior NCP leader told The Sunday Express.
Sources said the informal talks are taking place with the knowledge of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who is said to be unhappy with the Congress’ attitude and approach towards alliance partners. Pawar had skipped the iftar get-together hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi last Sunday. While sources in the Congress said the NCP may be trying to pressurise the Congress, it appears to be willing to give some more seats to the NCP, although in public it favours continuation of the 2009 formula.