Aggressive NCP expansion plan worries Congress

The Congress is simultaneously hoping to work on improving its tally from 82 to at least 115

There are apprehensions in the Congress camp in the state about the Nationalist Congress Party aggressively stepping up expansion activities in Congress strongholds.

Sources revealed that NCP likely spoiling Congress chances in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections was aired at an internal assessment meet of the core committee of the Congress, where it was felt that NCP expanding base in Nanded, Latur, Sindhudurg and Nagpur would upset calculations of the Congress which is hoping to improve its Assembly tally.

The NCP expansion agenda in Vidarbha, Marathwada, north Maharashtra and Konkan-Mumbai regions is reported to be worrying the top Congress leadership.

The state unit of the Congress has identified almost 40 to 45 Assembly segments across Maharashtra where it may face a challenge from NCP in the Assembly polls. In the 288-seat Assembly, Congress has 82 and NCP 62 seats. The Sena and BJP together have 90 seats. The remaining are with Independents and smaller parties.

At its internal assessment meeting, Congress leaders reportedly expressed concern about the rapid electoral progress made by the NCP. It fears the ally will upset its 2014 calculations. It has emerged that senior Congress leaders Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre and AICC secretary in charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash agree that the Congress needs to guard its strongholds against the NCP.

The party is simultaneously hoping to work on improving its tally from 82 to at least 115.

The NCP is also working at improving its numbers, as NCP state chief Madhukar Pichad candidly admitted. He said, "Our target is to emerge the number one party in Maharashtra in the Assembly elections."

The NCP aggression has led to worries in the Shiv Sena and BJP, as well.

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