Tensions between ruling allies Congress and NCP continue to rise as MPCC chief complains to party high command
Mumbai: Tensions between Maharashtra government allies Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) continued to rise as Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Nana Patole accused the NCP of trying to “finish-off” the Congress and aid the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since the inception of the three-party ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (MVA) coalition government in late 2019.
The MPCC chief disclosed that he had conveyed instances of the NCP’s ‘treachery’ to the Congress’ high command during the recently concluded three-day Chintan Shivir (introspection meet) of the Congress in Udaipur in Rajasthan.
MPCC chief Nana Patole remarked, “The way in which the NCP has been behaving with the Congress for the last two -and-a-half years since the MVA’s formation, be it discrimination in the allocation of funds, poaching of Congress members to the NCP in the Bhiwandi civic body, the trouble they have caused during the Amravati district cooperative bank election or the Bhandara- Gondia Zilla Parishad election. It looks like they have been consistently attempting to stamp out the Congress at the local and the State level.”
The MPCC president argued that the three-party MVA ought to run on ideas and not merely for holding on to power. Patole further alleged that the NCP was trying to help the BJP grow by weakening the Congress, which it shares power with the Shiv Sena and the NCP in the ruling MVA.
Patole further remarked, “When this government was formed, it was done on the rationale to stop the BJP. But if NCP is supporting the BJP, then this is an insult to (Congress President) Sonia Gandhi and we will not tolerate this. We have communicated all the problems the NCP has caused for us and a decision on this will be taken by the high command in a few days.”
The MPCC president, however, refused to comment on Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s style of functioning, remarking that the intention was not to target any individual within the NCP.
A war of words has erupted between Patole and Ajit Pawar ever since the NCP covertly allied with the BJP in the Bhandara-Gondia Zilla Parishad elections.
Pawar, who is aggressively expanding the NCP’s base in Pune district and elsewhere in his capacity as Pune Guardian Minister and the State’s Finance Minister, had censured Patole about the latter’s past when he was with the BJP as an MP from Bhandara-Gondia. Patole had joined the Congress in early 2018.
Responding to Ajit Pawar’s criticism, MPCC president Nana Patole remarked, “There is no need to worry about my political background. I have never betrayed anyone. When I had resigned (from the BJP), I did so upfront and without recourse to any skullduggery”.
It was also a swift rejoinder to Ajit Pawar’s early morning oath taking ceremony alongside former BJP CM Devendra Fadnavis in 2019. Soon after the conclusion of the Maharashtra Assembly elections in October 2019, Ajit Pawar had startled everyone in Maharashtra with his intra-party ‘rebellion’ when he staged a coup on the morning of November 23 and was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister, with Fadnavis taking oath as Chief Minister.
However, after NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s iron hand had prevailed and the party failed to split despite his nephew’s (Ajit Pawar) temporary defection, the junior Pawar had resigned as Deputy Chief Minister in less than 80 hours only to be sworn-in again as Deputy CM in the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA just a few days later.
Meanwhile, responding to Patole, Ajit Pawar said that it was the MPCC chief’s right to say whatever he wanted to his superiors.
Speaking to newspersons in Satara, Ajit Pawar remarked, “There is no need to give too much importance to what Nana Patole tells his superiors… We also complain to Pawar saheb or (Chief Minister) Uddhav Thackeray on occasion… Our country has seen a 24-party National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the BJP and the 15-party United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress in the past. There were big coordination problems there so it is not surprising there are problems in a three-party coalition (MVA government) here. But leaders of these parties ensure that the three vessels (kitchen utensils) (Shiv Sena, NCP. Congress) do not collide.”