A day after Rahul Gandhi met Sharad Pawar at his residence in New Delhi and spent nearly an hour with him, triggering talk of a possible merger between their parties, the NCP on Friday ruled out the merger ahead of the Assembly elections in September-October this year.
NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “Speculation about Congress-NCP merger is baseless. There is neither any such proposal from either side nor has the subject been discussed… The NCP is an independent party, which is set to evolve its strategy for the Assembly polls.”
On Rahul meeting Pawar on Thursday, Malik said, “The discussion was confined to the Lok Sabha elections and plans for the Maharashtra polls.”
With an eye on state polls, Pawar will hold a meeting of NCP’s core committee on Saturday before meeting all Lok Sabha candidates from the party. “The objective is to review the Lok Sabha polls and also prepare for the Assembly elections,” said a leader. A senior NCP leader said, “Pawar saheb remains our hope and inspiration. Under his leadership, the party will be ready for the next electoral challenge.”
However, NCP leaders conceded that the drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls has leaders and cadre worried. The party has won only four Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra — Baramati, Raigad, Shirur and Satara — and one in Lakshadweep. The Congress has fared even worse, winning only from Chandrapur.
The NCP, meanwhile, is set to elect its leader in the Lok Sabha. Among the names doing the rounds is Baramati MP Supriya Sule.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines