Wary of NCP, Congress begins poll preparations

Marathon party meeting discusses life without ally

Less than 24 hours after Sharad Pawar put NCP in poll mode, Congress held a marathon meeting Tuesday evening to draw up a parallel strategy.

The more-than-five-hour-long meeting discussed if the party could afford to take the big leap of contesting parliamentary and assembly elections on its own if ally NCP pushes it.

Congress is worried as NCP has started asserting itself to strike a hard bargain before the 2014 elections. Party leadership knows NCP, which has performed better than Congress in local body elections in the last two years, will demand a bigger seat share to continue the alliance.

The question is whether Congress can afford to be more accomodative to keep its pre-poll alliance with NCP intact.

At the moment, the party has no clear answers. Congress wants to ensure NCP stays second in the numbers game.

CM Prithviraj Chavan, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre, AICC secretary in-charge of the state Mohan Prakash, industries minister Narayan Rane, agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, textile minister Naseem Khan and former CM Ashok Chavan participated in the marathon meeting.

They reviewed the Congress vote share and seats won region-wise. Critical administrative issues such as drought were also discussed.

It was felt the party and the government would have to work together to highlight popular schemes started by Congress ministers to counter NCP, which is trying to position itself as the number one party in the state.

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