After weeks of bickering between leaders of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which runs the government in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told party workers on Monday that they should settle their differences and work together for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“Our parties have the same political background. We face a major battle ahead in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, so it is time to come together to face this battle,” Mr. Chavan told Congress workers at a function organised by the party’s state unit to felicitate his completion of three years in office.
“The Congress and NCP have fought local elections against each other but in this big fight, we should be united. Congress workers should also set aside internal differences,” he said.
Over the last two months, leaders from the Congress and NCP have been taking swipes at each other. In September, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had accused the chief minister of “policy paralysis” and claimed he was slow in clearing files. Mr. Chavan had shot back by saying that only files pertaining to contentious issues were not cleared fast. On Sunday, Mr. Chavan gave an interview to a local newspaper asking whether the NCP had been able to justify the grounds on which it came into existence after splitting from the Congress. Mr. Pawar responded by saying that if the NCP had not been formed, Mr. Chavan would perhaps not have been given the chance to become the chief minister of the state.
Meanwhile the state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre is continuing to press for a greater share for the party in the seat sharing arrangement with the NCP for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. In the last polls, the Congress had 26 seats and the NCP had 22. “We performed much better than the NCP in both the parliamentary and assembly polls in Maharashtra in 2009. For the 2014 parliamentary polls, we should get 29 seats and the NCP should be given 19,” said Mr. Thakre. However, the NCP says it is not open to any change in the ratio. “This question has already been settled. There have been no major changes since then like delimitation which we need to take into account,” said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik.