If Congress wants to go independent, we will have look at the alternative: Sharad Pawar

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Saturday made it clear that it was getting ready to go it alone in the Zilla Parishad (ZP) and local body elections with party chief Sharad Pawar having pointed to such a possibility. Between this November and February 2012, 27 ZPs, 14 corporations, including the high profile Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, and over 500 local bodies, are going to the polls.

At the party's convention on Panchayat Raj in Navi Mumbai, party leaders spoke of facing the challenge of a year of elections independently. “Our party is in coalition [with the Congress] at the Centre and in the State [Maharashtra]. Our stand is, when you are in a coalition, you fight elections together. But, if the other party speaks of going independent, it is their right. In such a situation, we will have to look at the alternatives,” Mr. Pawar said.

In his address, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said, “If you have any doubt about fighting elections alone, [do note] that in Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli, Solapur, Ahmednagar and Pune, we have to go it alone, because here, Congress and NCP are the main parties. I am not talking of seats where the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena are strong, for there these parties would gain if the Congress and NCP stood opposed.”

State Home Minister and party leader R.R. Patil called for retaining the NCP's “top position” in the local bodies. “The main aim of this meeting is the upcoming elections. If you see the success rate of the party, we have fared better in the Vidhan Sabha than in the Lok Sabha, and better still in the local body elections,” he said.

Muslims

Mr. Pawar said he was surprised to find that there had not been a single ZP member from the Muslim community in the last 10 to 15 years. He said the NCP would endeavour to put up Muslim candidates in the ZP polls.