Maharashtra: Congress, NCP ready to seal deal; Rahul Gandhi to launch campaign on March 1https://indianexpress.com/elections/maharashtra-congress-ncp-ready-to-seal-deal-rahul-gandhi-to-launch-campaign-on-march-1-5590204/

Maharashtra: Congress, NCP ready to seal deal; Rahul Gandhi to launch campaign on March 1

While the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have almost finalised a seat-sharing pact, leaders from both the parties are also in talks with smaller parties.

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Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference in New Delhi. (Express photo: Amit Mehra)

Hours after the BJP and the Shiv Sena announced a pre-poll pact, sources in the Congress said party president Rahul Gandhi was scheduled to address a public rally from Dhule in Maharashtra on March 1 and set the ball rolling for the parliamentary elections.

While the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have almost finalised a seat-sharing pact, leaders from both the parties are also in talks with smaller parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) and the Bharip Bahujan Mahajan among others, to stitch a mega-Opposition alliance.

Setting the stage for Rahul’s rally, the Congress and the NCP will hold two joint public meetings — first in Nanded on February 20 and second in Beed on February 23. Both the rallies are likely to be attended by NCP president Sharad Pawar and All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge, along with other senior leaders from the state.

Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam claimed that Rahul will hold a public meeting in Mumbai on March 1, although details of the same were not immediately available.

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Meanwhile, reacting to the pre-poll alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said that Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has “put even a chameleon to shame”.

Recounting how Thackeray had announced in a public address that he would not join hands with the BJP for contesting polls, Chavan said the “announcement of an alliance was an insult and humiliation of the loyal Shiv Sainiks”.

Chavan contended that despite the understanding struck between Thackeray and the BJP leadership, the “betrayed” Sena voter will not vote for the BJP.

Terming the alliance “immoral”, Chavan also reminded how the Sena had once referred to Amit Shah-led BJP as “Afzal Khan’s sena” and how the BJP chief had countered with a jibe, ridiculing Thackeray and calling him a “mouse”.

“The saffron alliance announced today stands for corruption and helplessness. Shiv Sena’s lust for power has made it a partner in chowkidaar’s chori,” said Chavan. Meanwhile, Marathi cinema actress Ashawari Joshi joined the Congress in Mumbai.

Congress MLA donates month’s salary

Expressing grief over the death of CRPF personnel in the Pulwama terror attack, Congress MLA and former Maharashtra minister Naseem Khan on Monday donated a month’s salary for the welfare of the families of the deceased. He has also requested other elected representatives to follow his suit.