A full scale war has broken out between the Congress and its ally the Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) over elections on Wednesday to the post of president and vice president in 27 zilla parishads in Maharashtra where the NCP was supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in some places.

Madhukar Pichad, state NCP president and Manikrao Thakre, state Congress head traded charges and counter charges on Thursday, each accusing the other of backstabbing. The Congress is particularly upset that in zilla parishads in Vidarbha where it had a large number of seats, the NCP allied with the BJP to secure the top posts. Mr Thakre said in Vidarbha the Congress won 142 seats in the zilla parishads 10 more than last time while the NCP won 72, losing ten seats. There was a clear agreement that the NCP would help the Congress in places where it had more seats but that did not happen. He said it was all part of a pre-planned strategy to keep the Congress out of power.

The NCP’s machinations come after its president and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said he was pained by the Prime Minister’s remarks on the difficulties of coalition. As a result of support from the BJP in key places, the NCP got its president elected in 13 zilla parishads and 14 vice presidents. The Congress settled for seven presidents and four vice presidents.

Mr Pichad said the Congress was not inclined to support the NCP in Kolhapur where it had tied up with other parties and in Ahmednagar, a Congress minister clearly said the party was not interested in joining up with NCP which is a party of traitors. He said the Congress should also take the blame for not taking the NCP into confidence. In some places local NCP workers were opposed to an alliance with the Congress, he said.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said it was unfortunate that when the Congress and the NCP had decided to go together in zilla parishads where they had majority, this had not happened. There were several district level meetings after the polls and the Congress had decided to support the NCP. He said the party would have to analyze what went wrong.

The Congress and NCP had several post election meetings where it was decided to join hands where the parties had the numbers. The Congress and NCP did not have a pre poll alliance for the 27 zilla parishad elections, though in some places there was an understanding.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said in today's elections for zilla parishad presidents, there was an understanding between the Congress and NCP to help each other in order to keep the non-secular forces out of power wherever possible. Even NCP president Sharad Pawar had stated that NCP is determined to be with Congress and help the party and vice versa, he added.

However, the NCP was supported by the BJP in Gadchiroli, Yavatmal, Nagpur, Chandrapur and Amravati districts and with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in Thane. A Congress source said that the NCP propped up the BJP in Vidarbha.

In Thane the NCP managed to get its candidates elected as president and vice president with support from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Vasai Jan Andolan Samiti led by Vivek Pandit, MLA who is affiliated to the Shiv Sena.

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