Congress president Rahul Gandhi has sought an explanation from the Maharashtra Congress in the wake of the party joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to gain control over the zilla parishad in Vidarbha’s Gondia district. On Monday, the Congress rode to power in the Gondia zilla parishad with the support of the BJP, upsetting the Nationalist Congress Party, which had emerged as the single largest party in the local poll.
Senior Congress leaders said that the NCP leadership had complained about the development to the party high command in Delhi. Taking a stern view of the matter, Gandhi sought an explanation from the Maharashtra unit.
Incidentally, on Tuesday, the party’s leadership in Maharashtra also washed its hands of the controversy. During a meeting of senior state Congress leaders, the party’s state president Ashok Chavan, who briefed other leaders regarding the high command’s intervention, contended that even he had been kept in the dark about the action by the district unit.
According to sources, the party’s local legislator Gopaldas Aggarwal, who oversees party activities in the district, could face disciplinary action for the tie-up. Two senior party leaders, Harshwardhan Sapkal (considered close to Gandhi) and Vijay Wadettiwar, have been sent for probing the matter and submitting a detailed report. Aggarwal, a sworn rival of NCP’s Praful Patel, had similarly defied the party’s line for a post-poll arrangement with the BJP in another local poll three years ago.
“I’ve sought a report on the issue. The alliance (with the BJP) is against the party’s principles, and we do not support it,” Chavan said, when contacted. Interestingly, some senior party leaders present for Tuesday’s meeting also raised the issue of NCP tying up with the BJP in several local body polls. “There are some districts where bitterness exists between the Congress and the NCP local leadership. Gondia is one such district. That said, we do not support the action taken by the district unit,” Chavan said.