Congress dismisses Pawar breakup threat

Says NCP chief wants to take centre stage in Delhi

Congress dismissed Tuesday as pressure politics a threat by NCP president Sharad Pawar to go it alone in the next state assembly and parliamentary elections.

Party leaders asserted, "NCP will not break alliance with Congress in the state and at the Centre as none can afford to stay out of power."

Pawar wants to emerge as leader of a pressure group comprising non-Congress and non-BJP players at the Centre after the elections and is trying to reposition himself. His stand is to court regional forces across the country to corner Congress in parliamentary elections.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre said, "Every political party has the right to harbour growth ambitions. Even Congress will talk to its local leaders to ascertain the ground situation before taking a call on an alliance with NCP. The final decision will be taken by the high command in Delhi before elections."

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has decided to not allow himself to be dragged in. However, in a veiled attack, he indicated to close aides, "The fact remains Congress and NCP are in alliance in Delhi and Maharashtra."

The top leadership of Congress in the state and Delhi reckons the NCP hard positioning is a pointer to its disappointment with the government at the Centre.

A senior AICC functionary said, "If we analyse developments of the last year, there are several issues on which Pawar expressed opposition in the Union cabinet. Pawar has been open in opposing tooth and nail the Food Security Bill Congress president Sonia Gandhi is determined to push ahead of 2014 elections. He also expressed reservation to the cash transfer scheme of the central government."

In Mumbai, MPCC officials said Pawar's anger at Congress for alleged betrayal in Gujarat assembly elections was not justified.

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