'The Centre's policies helped achieve a win,' says the senior leader

The central government's policies have helped in the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance's good showing in the Maharashtra elections, union agriculture minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar said here Thursday.

He added that a decision on the chief minister's post "would be taken by the Congress party" and he did not want any problems from his party on that front.

Mr. Pawar said the combine had done particularly well in rural areas. "Congress and NCP are doing very well and the response in rural Maharastra has been extremely good - there we have gotten more response than what was expected," Pawar told reporters as he left his residence here.

The NCP-Congress combine had leads in 135 seats of the 288 seat assembly in the state.

He attributed the success in elections to the Congress policies at the centre. "The Congress policy at the centre was implemented by our government in Maharashtra and was appreciated by the voters."

He also admitted that his party's individual performance was "impressive" and that critics who predicted that the party would fair poorly were wrong.

"NCP has fared well. We have a strong base team of youngsters who are working hard and the voting percentage of our party is impressive," Mr. Pawar said.

Discussing the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) denting the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, he said: "We had expected them to get 10-12 seats."

Mr. Pawar justified his 'retirement options' saying that his party was "encouraging the younger generation". He said: "Our generation has the reponsibility of encouraging newer leadership."