Pawars speak in different tongues on alliance

NCP is divided over continuing the alliance with Congress. While party president Sharad Pawar is for it, deputy CM Ajit Pawar is talking of going it alone in the 2014 elections.

Senior cabinet ministers and party leaders are irked.

Sharad Pawar asserted last week, "Ideally, NCP would like to have an alliance with Congress to keep communal forces at bay in Maharashtra."

However, over the weekend Ajit exhorted party workers to prepare for all 288 seats in the state assembly.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre said, "Final decisions are always left to the high commands." But Congress, which is closely monitoring the divide in NCP, is worried.

State Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant said, "It is for NCP to check why its leaders are taking different lines on the alliance."

Congress made its intention clear when CM Prithviraj Chavan said, "We want the Congress-NCP alliance to work."

The renewed anti-Congress aggression of Ajit is being perceived in Congress as a move to reassert his political might in the state.

An MPCC official said, "We feel there is a power tussle going on in NCP. Ajit talks of going solo to display his ability." Senior cabinet minister Chhagan Bhujbal adopted a practical approach. He said NCP could not afford to allow split in secular votes as it would revive saffron forces in the state.

Almost all senior cabinet ministers belonging to NCP, including Jayant Patil (rural development) and Praful Patel (Union minister for heavy industries), and state party chief Madhukar Pichad are in favour of an alliance with Congress.

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