Congress did not follow the coalition dh-arma and hardly bothered to carry along its United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partners after the Lok Sabha elections, according to senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel.
“Despite being the bigger partner, Congress never offered chairmanship or membership to any Parliamentary committee. The NCP has 10 members in Parliament. Congress just didn’t show any appreciation of its alliance with partners,” Patel said in an interview to The Indian Express.
According to Patel, there was no UPA now. “National Conference and the DMK have moved out.
The UPA was only Congress-NCP. We moved out after Congress didn’t give us adequate number of seats to contest in Maharashtra. So, what is the relevance of UPA today,” he said.
The leader, however, refused to directly answer if the NCP would join the BJP-led government at the Centre or in Maharashtra. “It is not possible to predict now,” he said.
NCP’s unconditional support from outside to the BJP in Maharashtra makes it politically relevant, Patel said. BJP has won 122 seats in the state, 24 short of majority. NCP has 41 MLAs. “We will vote for the BJP during the trust vote on November 12,” he added.
BJP’s state president Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on October 31. Nine other MLAs were allocated portfolios, but none from Sena. The Sena, which severed its 25-year alliance with the BJP ahead of Assembly elections in Maharashtra, is still negotiating over a post-poll alliance. There is no certainty if Sena will be part of the government.
BJP has said further expansion of the Cabinet will happen only after the trust vote. Political observers say after the trust vote the BJP can continue for six months. Shiv Sena, which too split from BJP over seat sharing ahead of the state elections, won 63 Assembly seats.
NCP’s unconditional support to the BJP, however, took the wind out of Sena’s sail, and dramatically diminished the latter’s bargaining power in case the two were to regroup now to form the government in Maharashtra. Were it not for this development, BJP, despite its leading position, would have had to bank on Sena’s support to form the government in the state.
Patel also defended his party’s secular credentials by questioning the Congress, one of whose leader, he claimed called him up after the poll outcome to offer outside support if the NCP and the Sena were to stake claim to government formation in the state.
Not only did Congress not show any magnanimity after the Lok Sabha polls, it refused to let NCP contest in 130 seats out of 288 in Maharashtra, Patel said. “Prithviraj (Chavan) said 130 seats was out of question. We demanded 144 i.e. half the seats, but we were willing to settle for less. But Congress did not yield even after I personally sent messages to Rahul (Gandhi) and Soniaji,” Patel said.