Special Correspondent

Drop NCP, MGP members, demand Congress cadre

Nationalist Congress Party has two members in the coalitionMaharashtrawadi Gomantak Party has one member

PANAJI: Tension is fast building up in the ruling coalition with a majority of Congress members pressing the party to dispense with the coalition partners, namely, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) ahead of May 2007 Assembly election.

A joint meeting of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) and Congress Legislative Party (CLP) on Friday expressed strong resentment over some recent utterances of coalition partners - NCP and MGP - and threatened to fight the next Assembly election on its own.

The Congress anger is directed towards Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred de Souza, who also heads State NCP, and PWD Minister Ramkrishna Dhavlikar, who is a prominent leader of the regional outfit of MGP, for their public utterances about claims on certain Assembly constituencies, which may upset Congress equations in future.

GPCC president Ravi Naik told The Hindu on Saturday that at Friday's meeting, many Congress members demanded that action be taken against MGP and NCP leaders for breaching coalition principles.

Party sources said that a demand was made that the Chief Minister should drop the ministers.

However, some senior Ministers advised the party to go slow on any action which could damage the coalition.

With the support of two-member NCP and single-member MGP not a necessity for survival, some Congress MLAs have been eyeing ministerial positions held by coalition partners and are boldly gunning for their heads. GPCC president said the meeting decided to leave the issue to CLP leadership.