Mumbai: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Saturday ruled out any possibility of a merger with the Congress and also indicated that it will demand more Assembly seats in the alliance pact with the Congress in Maharashtra.
A senior NCP leader, who attended the meeting called by party chief Sharad Pawar, said that the NCP would demand 50 per cent seats in the state Assembly elections.
Both parties had contested the 2014 Assembly elections separately. However, in 2009, the NCP contested 114 seats compared to the 174 contested by the Congress.
“It was discussed in the meeting that the NCP should contest at least 144 Assembly seats in Maharashtra,” the NCP leader said.
Another senior NCP leader and former state minister Ganesh Naik said that the Sharad Pawar-led party was also mulling the possibility of getting Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) in the alliance.
“We met to discuss our performance in the Lok Sabha elections. There were different opinions among the party leaders on making Prakash Ambedkar’s party VBA an ally. While one section suggested that there should be an alliance with the VBA to avoid split in secular votes, the other section said that the VBA would not be able to get as many votes in the state Assembly elections as they got in the Lok Sabha elections,” said Mr Naik.
Mr Naik also confirmed that the issue of the merger with the Congress was not even discussed in the meeting. “There is no question of a merger,” he said.
In 1999, Mr Pawar broke away from the Congress opposing the candidature of Sonia Gandhi for Prime Ministership on the issue of her foreign origin. But it was not the first time he had left the Congress. He first parted ways with them in 1978 the parent party way back in 1978 to form the Congress (Socialist) and lead an alliance government in Maharashtra.
He rejoined the Congress in 1986 when Rajiv Gandhi was at the helm of affairs.
After formation of the NCP, he forged alliances with Congress to form governments at the Centre and in the state. The Congress and NCP were together till the 2014 Assembly elections when they parted ways to contest separately which they lost. But both the parties came together to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.