Congress and NCP leaders in the state are under pressure from the cadre to join hands to take on the ruling BJP coalition during the winter session of Parliament and state legislature. Winter session of Parliament will begin in November last week, and the state legislature in the first week of December.
A senior AICC functionary said, “The Congress will take the initiative, both at the Centre and the state, to bring allies, including NCP in Maharashtra, to take on the BJP-led government on controversial legislations and public debates.”
Sources said the NCP has been adopting flexibility to encourage reforms. State NCP chief Sunil Tatkare said, “NCP president Sharad Pawar has always strived to bring together like-minded forces on public issues. The Congress-NCP will surely make it a common cause in the winter session.”
Setting aside differences, both the parties have agreed to field a common candidate for the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) elections this month.
MPCC chief Ashok Chavan had taken the initiative of bringing the Congress-NCP together to retain power in the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation.
The NCP had positively responded to keep BJP-led allies out in the Kolhapur civic body.
Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said, “The Congress has always taken the initiative to unite secular forces to take on the BJP-Shiv Sena. Everything depends on how the NCP reacts.”
The AICC, focusing on consolidating the organisation, urged the state party leadership to unite and work in Maharashtra.
The consolidation of the Shiv Sena, which remains in the ruling coalition by sharing power in the state and at the Centre, while virtually playing the role of an aggressive opposition, seems to have the Congress and NCP worried.
Shiv Sena and BJP’s success in elections to local bodies, including Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation, indicated that the saffron alliance, despite differences, is likely to remain intact.
A senior Congress leader said, “As state elections are far away, there is no question of any immediate alliances. But we will have to redraw our strategy to seek NCP’s help to corner the BJP-Sena government in Maharashtra on the floor of House or on the streets.”
Congress and NCP political managers admit that the Shiv Sena had benefited in KDMC polls by agitating against the rise in price of tur dal.
The Congress-NCP appeared to be late in responding to the problem faced by people.
An issue debated within the NCP relates to relations with the BJP. A former NCP minister said, “We will have to restore credibility as an opposition party. People will not take us seriously if we hobnob with the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Some in the party questioned the strategy of NCP president Sharad Pawar to share platform with BJP top leaders in Baramati.
“The BJP may have nothing to lose as they have numbers in their favour at the Centre and in the state. But BJP-NCP ties will help the Congress in the state,” said a leader of the party.
A section in the state Congress also said, “Bihar elections have set the stage for a third front, at least at the Centre. Pawar, known for his rapport with all regional forces, is likely to form a pressure group at the Centre…”