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Congress says not to ally with NCP for Gujarat assembly polls

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-08-2017 Maulik Pathak

Ahmedabad: In what could further widen the rift between the two parties, the Congress in Gujarat is looking to severe ties with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ahead of the state assembly elections that are slated to be held by December this year.

Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) President Bharatsinh Solanki on Wednesday said on Twitter that the Gujarat Congress will not ally with NCP for upcoming state assembly polls. Solanki alleged that the NCP was operating like a B-Team of Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat.

The trouble between the two parties came to fore during the recent Rajya Sabha elections where Congress key strategist and political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel managed to scrape through in what was one of the toughest election battle of his political career.

The Sharad Pawar-led NCP, which had a pre-poll alliance with the Congress for the 2012 assembly polls in Gujarat, has two MLAs Kandhal Jadeja and Jayant Bosky Patel.

Patel needed support of 44 MLAs to win the crucial elections in which he was pitted against a former Congress leader Balwantsinh Rajput who defected to the BJP a day before the last date for filing of the nominations for the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections. The forty forth vote was the deciding vote and Patel had managed to get support from only 43 Congress MLAs after as many as eight of the party’s legislators cross-voted in favour of BJP.

The NCP had earlier said that its MLAs in Gujarat would vote for Patel’s candidature. However, Congress believes that both the NCP MLAs voted for BJP and the deciding vote came from Janata Dal (United) MLA Chhotu Vasava, a tribal leader in Gujarat.

NCP MLA Jayant Bosky soon after casting his vote on August 8 had claimed that he had voted for the Congress leader. Patel, after being declared a winner, instead went to JD(U) leader Vasava’s residence and thanked him for his support.

NCP has kept insisting that one of its MLAs had voted for Patel however Congress refused to believe it.

“Despite NCP has been the Congress’ ally in Gujarat for so long, their MLAs did not vote for Patel during the Rajya Sabha elections. As a result the state Congress has decided not to form an alliance with them,” said Congress spokesperson in Gujarat Manish Doshi.

Earlier this month, NCP president Sharad Pawar skipped a meeting of opposition parties called by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. While BJP has set an ambitious target of winning over 150 seats (out of 182), the Congress, which is looking to revive the party’s prospects after the Rajya Sabha victory, is targeting a win in 125 assembly seats.

Talking to media persons in Ahmedabad on 19 August, NCP leader Praful Patel said that the party was chalking out a strategy for Gujarat elections and it plans to contest as many as 50 (out of 182) seats on its own in case an alliance with Congress did not work out.

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