Bickering within MVA surfaces as Congress and NCP engage in war of words | Mumbai news

Mumbai As the state heads for the politically significant local body elections, bickering among the ruling allies — Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has come to the fore.

A day after Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole accused the NCP of backstabbing, senior NCP leader and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday slammed Patole for the jibe and reminded him that the three ruling parties need to understand that they need to be united to be able to run the state.

He said that the senior leaders are expected to exercise caution while making statements. Pawar reminded Patole that he has left BJP to join Congress and whether BJP should also call him a backstabber. The friction stooped to another level as Patole hit back and reminded Ajit Pawar, without taking his name, that he joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government that lasted for 72 hours back in 2019.

“I found his (Nana Patole) statement laughable as we all know where he was in the past. Nana himself was in BJP and going by his own logic, BJP should say that he backstabbed them and joined Congress. For him, the statement seems fit for grabbing headlines but organisations work according to their own convenience,” the deputy chief minister said while replying to Patole’s backstabbing remarks.

He clarified that such decisions have been taken by the three ruling parties including Congress and the problem won’t arise again if there is proper coordination among MVA. He also said that the NCP chief Sharad Pawar had asked them to stick to the MVA alliance in the local body polls but local leaders and elected representatives were given exemptions in case the scenario is different at the local level.

“For 15 years, Congress and NCP were part of the coalition government in Maharashtra. Despite that, we chose to contest against each other in some districts. Such incidents should not happen and we all need to make efforts in that direction,” Pawar stated, adding that upcoming polls in Nandurbar and Nagpur districts have directed the local units to stay united with alliance partners but they have also been given some authority.

“If at a place, there is a direct contest between the two ruling parties, then local leaders stress on contesting alone because they also want candidature in the polls” he said.

In a reply, Patole questioned NCP’s intention. “NCP has backstabbed us by entering into an alliance with the BJP in the Bhandara, Gondia Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti president polls. It has broken the written agreement between the MVA allies just to come to power. If this is not backstabbing, then what is it?” Patole said.

He said that Congress is fighting a battle of ideas and for development in the country without worrying about the outcome and taunted NCP for choosing BJP for power.

Patole alleged that the NCP kept them in the dark till the end.

“The fact is NCP joined hands with the BJP by keeping us in the dark. We have always followed the alliance rules. We fight from the front, don’t attack from the back. Everyone knows the background of the people who are criticising me and I don’t need to respond to them,” he said without naming Ajit Pawar, who joined hands with the BJP and formed a government headed by Devendra Fadnavis in 2019, when his uncle and senior Pawar was busy cobbling the three-party alliance along with Shiv Sena and Congress.

However, their government could not survive for more than 72 hours as most of the NCP legislators from the splinter group, who pledged their support to Ajit Pawar, went back to the NCP. Later, Ajit Pawar too returned to the party.

The state Congress chief alleged that the NCP breached the agreement signed by the three parties over helping each other in the local body polls by joining hands with BJP in Gondia Zilla Parishad elections. Patole stressed that NCP was called backstabber because they helped BJP to be in power by breaching the agreement.

Senior leaders from all the three parties — Jayant Patil (NCP state chief), Subhash Desai (senior Shiv Sena leader) and Patole had signed a joint resolution that they will help each other win most of the ZP and panchayat Samiti polls held early this year in Bhandara and Gondia. On Thursday, Congress shared the copy of the resolution signed on January 30, 2022, soon after Ajit Pawar countered Patole’s allegation.

At the Gondia ZP elections, BJP’s Pankaj Rahangdale was elected as the president, while NCP’s Yashwant Ganvir became the vice-president. The conflict started with Gondia ZP polls may strain relations between the old allies.

This year, the state is expecting elections in 23 municipal corporations including Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur; 27 district councils, 298 panchayat samitis, 320 nagar panchayats and nagar councils.

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