Even as the NCP appeared to be softening its stand on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the saffron party Friday ruled out an alliance with Sharad Pawar’s party, saying it was just his ploy to strike a hard bargain in seat-sharing talks with the Congress.
Though Pawar has denied a report published in a daily that claimed he had met Modi, his close aide and Union minister Praful Patel recently said the Gujarat Chief Minister had been given a clean chit by courts in connection with the 2002 riots.
The NCP has been upset over the alleged delay by the Congress to start seat-sharing talks for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. On Friday, Patel met Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and reportedly set a four-day ultimatum for talks for the 48 LS seats in Maharashtra. However, it only met with a lukewarm response from Chavan, who remained non-committal on freezing the seat-sharing formula of 26 (Congress) and 22 (NCP).
“We are losing our patience. We have urged the Congress to begin the seat-sharing talks within the next four days, or else we will have to work out other options,” Patel said. MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre said, “We have to sit and discuss it in a proper forum, and not in public.”
Meanwhile, the BJP snubbed the NCP, saying it was their ploy to use Modi’s name to strike a hard bargain with the Congress and also try to create confusion and rift among the allies associated with the Shiv Sena and the BJP. “There is absolutely no question of entering into any partnership with the NCP for the 2014 elections. We consider them our political rivals who, along with the Congress, are responsible for mis-governance, rampant corruption and atrocities against farmers in Maharashtra,” state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said.
Deputy leader of Opposition in the LS Gopinath Munde too dismissed the option of an alliance with the NCP. “We have taken our battle to Pawar’s fiefdom, so where is the question of any alliance with the NCP? I have always been a staunch rival of Pawar and will fight him tooth and nail in electoral politics as well on cricket pitch.”
At the AICC briefing in Delhi, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “Every party will have its options open. But we have been together for the past 15 years and it has proved to be a formidable alliance. During elections, parties will try to make efforts for more seats. There is nothing new in it. But we have seen in the past that ultimately a solution will be worked out.” (With ENS, New Delhi)
On Friday, the first question to the AAP was related to its “anti-national activities”.