The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) appears to have hardened its stance against the Congress, holding it responsible for the series of mistakes that resulted in the debacle in the Lok Sabha polls.
The stage was set by former minister Praful Patel, who said, “PM Manmohan Singh’s failures cannot be overlooked.”
Patel also criticised Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s advisers for the poor performance.
Officially, spokesperson Nawab Mulik underplayed Patel’s comments as his personal view. But privately, several senior ministers admitted that the Congress failed at the level of strategy and planning.
A senior NCP minister said, “We have to admit that there were two camps operating in the AICC. The tussle caused a huge damage to the image of the party and its leadership.”
NCP president Sharad Pawar on Thursday held marathon meeting with ministers to discuss the shortcomings and strengths of the UPA versus the NDA in the election campaign.
The party also rejected AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s suggestion to merge NCP with the Congress.
“When Pawar was in Congress, they did not recognise his strength. They did not value him. Now they ask us to merge the party by extending invitation to Pawar saheb. There is no question of merging NCP with Congress,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Mulik said.
“The Congress should realise the NCP’s strength and know we have our own independent identity.”
The least number of women candidates have been fielded by the Congress which has given tickets to just five women contestants.