Updated: July 15, 2021 10:41:49 am
A day after NCP chief Sharad Pawar met a delegation of Congress leaders regarding alliance formation for upcoming elections, state Congress chief Nana Patole on Wednesday said the Congress was preparing for elections so as to avoid a situation similar to 2014 when the two parties contested separately. In the same breath, however, Patole also said Pawar was “the government’s remote control”.
“The Congress is increasing its base in the state and has given a call to go solo in the ensuing elections in a bid to avoid a 2014-like scenario,” Patole told the media. The state Congress chief said his stand was also endorsed by other Congress leaders.
When a delegation of Congress leaders, including national observer H K Patil and ministers Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan, met Pawar at his residence in Mumbai on Tuesday, the NCP chief reportedly sought to know whether the Congress was indeed preparing to go solo in all ensuing elections.
“If you have made a decision, then set the record straight,” Pawar reportedly told the delegation. Pawar also raised the issue with the Congress delegation, as Patole and Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap had been insisting that the party will go solo in the ensuing elections.
During the meeting on Tuesday, Patole was not present. “The issues of OBC and Maratha reservations were to be discussed with Pawar. The state cabinet had made a decision regarding these issues. And, therefore, two ministers and our national leaders met Pawar,” Patole said, adding, “if required, I will also meet the NCP chief… we respect him…” He, however, also said Pawar was the government’s remote control.
Pawar had reportedly told the Congress delegation if the party wanted to go solo, it could do so. “But the Congress should take care to ensure that those with whom it is in alliance are not hurt… Every party has the right to increase its strength and base, there is nothing wrong in it,” he said.
Asked for a comment, Shiv Sena chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, “The decision regarding any alliance for polls between the three parties will be made by the national chiefs of the parties…” Raut said, adding that the NCP chief had already said NCP and Sena will jointly contest the election.
A senior Sena leader said the party was not keen on joining hands with the Congress as it would mean fewer seats for the Sena in a three-party arrangement. “When the Sena is known for not parting even with one additional seat while it was in alliance with the BJP, how can it afford to go for a three-party seat arrangement?” the Sena leader said.
Last week, Patole stoked a row after he said his phone was being taped, and a report was submitted to the chief minister, deputy chief minister and home minister. A day later, in an about turn, he said he had been “misquoted” by a section of the media and that the BJP was his target.
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