The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Friday said it would be a part of the Left Democratic Front in Kerala and contest the next Assembly elections in the State against the Congress.

NCP national spokesman D.P. Tripathi said the party was trying to mobilise other secular democratic parties to form a secular democratic front. However, it would remain part of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre. But the party would have no truck with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

In Maharashtra, where the NCP is ruling together with the Congress, the alliance would continue. “In Maharashtra, this alliance will be led by the Congress,” he said. “Our first choice for alliance in different regions would be the Congress, but that party does not give us any space. So we are trying to create a space for us.”

The move is seen by observers as a counter to the pressure the Congress is trying to put on NCP president and Union Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar over the issue of price rise. Earlier this week, Mr. Pawar requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to relieve him of his ministerial burden, ostensibly to devote time to party work.

Asked whether Mr. Pawar wanted to pave the way for his daughter Supriya Sule to join the UPA government, Mr. Tripathi said: “It is for the Prime Minister to decide. We want our share to remain as it is.”

The NCP would try to forge an alliance with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Lok Jan Shakti Party in Bihar, and with smaller parties in Assam. It could also explore options in Andhra Pradesh where Congress MP Jagan Mohan Reddy is going ahead with his ‘Odarpu Yatra' despite objections from the party leadership.

Congress reaction

The Congress sought to dismiss Mr. Tripathi's comments, saying there was no change in the situation. “We are in alliance with the NCP at the national level as well as in Maharashtra. But the NCP put up candidates against us in Bihar. It is normal,” its spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

Keywords: NCPCongressSharad Pawar

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