The Nationalist Congress Party, perhaps still aching for being forced into the role of a junior partner in its pre-poll alliance with the Congress, appears determined not to make the going easy for Big Brother with the NCP bidding for the Chief Minister’s post. The NCP party has now thrown its hat in the ring for the chief minister’s post by questioning why the 2004 formula cannot be replicated when the Congress bagged the top job despite clinching fewer seats. In the 2004 assembly elections, the Congress won 69 seats, while the NCP had 71. However, the NCP conceded the chief minister’s post to Vilasrao Deshmukh of the Congress, and, in lieu, got six additional portfolios. Of the total 42 ministers in the state cabinet, the Congress had 18, while the rest 24 belonged to the NCP. State NCP chief RR Patil has said that numbers alone cannot be the criteria to determine who the CM’s post should go to. The NCP has reconciled with the fact that it will win fewer seats compared to the Congress. However, to hedge its bets, it now plans to lure independents and rebels to stay ahead of the Congress. Based on this cumulative strength, it hopes to get the Congress to cough up the top position. The front runner for the post in the NCP is water resources minister Ajit Pawar, the nephew of NCP president Sharad Pawar. Sources in the NCP indicate that is they cross 60 seats, there will be no question of playing second fiddle. The Congress will have to be reasonable, knowing well that it could never have been able to form the government on its own. But the Congress is in no mood to relent, and has its own invasion of the NCP turf planned out. According to a central Congress observers this time they are going to be in a position of giving and not taking from the NCP. Their argument is that the NCP should accept that its strength is confined to Western Maharashtra and that even there, the party is facing problems.
January 22, 2018
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