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 in the elections.
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 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 in 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 into Congress,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Mulik said. “The Congress should realise the NCP’s strengthen and know we have our own independent identity.”
The NCP also highlighted how, during UPA-1, there was a lack of coordination and during UPA-2, no coordination at all. The party said a change of mindset and greater coordination between the Congress and NCP is required ahead of the crucial Maharashtra Assembly elections in October.