Congress, NCP planning to project a united front against Devendra Fadnavis govt
Mumbai: Maharashtra’s opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seem to be coordinating strategies to project a united front against the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government. Last week, the two worked to create a joint game plan for a lone legislative council bypoll on 7 December. The Congress fielded its nominee Dilip Mane and the NCP decided to back him since the seat belongs to the Congress quota.
Congress and NCP have also decided to hold a joint protest march in Nagpur on 12 December against the Devendra Fadnavis government. The state legislature’s winter session begins in Nagpur from 11 December and the Congress and NCP had initially decided to hold separate demonstrations. But the similarity of issues and the political necessity to project a united front have prompted the two parties to work closely, top functionaries from both parties said.
What also seems to have energized the opposition is the fact that NCP chief Sharad Pawar plans to lead the march in Nagpur, a rare stewardship of a political protest for the septuagenarian politician in recent times.
“Pawar saheb is one of the most elderly politicians in the country and he still has a formidable presence in Maharashtra politics despite being out of power. Since the protest is mostly on farmers’ issues and the failed farm loan waiver, we could not ask for a better person to lead than Pawar,” said a Congress functionary.
He said the Congress was not looking at the protest or even the legislative council bypoll as opportunities to score points over the NCP. “We have our differences with the NCP and there have been serious disagreements with it over legislative as well as political strategies to adopt against the BJP government. But we have to be seen on the same page on farmers’ issues because the BJP often gets away exploiting our disagreement. We are not going to let this happen this time,” the Congress functionary said.
He also pointed out that the Congress, under the leadership of its state unit president and MP Ashok Chavan, had organized a massive march in Nagpur in December 2015. “It is not that we cannot ensure a big turnout on our own. But if we work with the NCP and if Pawar saheb leads, we could pull off a big show,” he said.
Ever since the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has come to power, the Congress and NCP have shown a lack of coordination in and outside the House. Congress has occasionally held the NCP responsible for helping the BJP-led government, especially chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, escape several tight situations, in return for an assurance of protection from investigations into corruption scandals involving NCP leaders. The Congress has informally cited the “slow pace” of probes against senior NCP leaders, former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and current state unit chief Sunil Tatkare, as proof of NCP’s “diplomatic relationship with the BJP”.
A big exception to the general Congress-NCP disunity was when the two came together for a state-wide ‘Sangharsha Yatra’ to demand a farm loan waiver in April and May. When the government declared a farm loan waiver in June both parties were quick to claim credit.
A senior NCP functionary said coordination with the Congress was a political necessity. “The NCP has suffered more reverses in the last three years of this government than the Congress in Maharashtra. We are being thrown out of our strongholds and many of our workers and leaders have joined the BJP to save themselves. We cannot fight this government alone and even the Congress has acknowledged the need to fight together now,” said the NCP leader requesting anonymity
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