The Congress disagreed with the Sharad Pawar view that the debate over the role of Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots should end but said it was confident its alliance with the NCP will not break.
“Closure, truth and reconciliation can happen only when there is real contrition, apology and its acceptance. Not only is that singularly missing but as far as Narendra Modi is concerned, the only time he came near to it was with his highly inapposite and insulting analogy of a puppy,” party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
He sought to play down Pawar’s remarks endorsing what his deputy and Union minister Praful Patel had said last week, and said there was no change in the Congress stand on Modi. “We stand by our position,” Singhvi said.
The Congress had disagreed with Patel but had said the NCP was entitled to different views on political issues.
The Congress views the NCP take on Modi and its remarks on seat-sharing as posturing to secure its interests, given the fact that the party is seeking more seats in Maharashtra this time around.
“We are confident we will go together in elections,” AICC general secretary and head of its communication department Ajay Maken said.
Sources said at the centre of the seat-sharing row was the Congress demand for 29 seats instead of the 26 it contested the last time. According to a 2009 formula, the Congress contested 26 seats and won 17, while the NCP fielded 22 candidates and bagged eight.
Party leaders pointed out that in the Assembly elections after that, the Congress contested 174 seats and the NCP 114. “If you translate the numbers — each Lok Sabha constituency has six Assembly seats — it comes to 29 seats to the Congress and 19 to the NCP,” a senior Congress leader said.
Party leaders said the demand for three more seats by the Congress had prompted the NCP to talk options. “It could be a pressure tactic. Such bickering has happened before every election. Everything will be settled,” a senior leader said.