Pawar for more seats in Maha polls, NCP blames Cong for rout

Pawar for more seats in Maha polls, NCP blames Cong for rout

Pawar for more seats in Maha polls, NCP blames Cong for rout

With the Lok Sabha polls leaving the Congress badly bruised, key ally NCP today demanded more seats for itself in the Maharashtra Assembly elections due later this year while attributing the debacle to "complete breakdown" of dialogue between ruling UPA allies.

At a brainstorming session to identify reasons for the loss and devise strategy to win in the Assembly polls, NCP chief Sharad Pawar made a pitch for his party getting more seats as part of the seat-sharing arrangement on the stength of its better performance in the Lok Sabha polls.

"Last time, when we got less seats than Congress in Lok Sabha polls, they said they should get more Assembly seats to contest. We should remember it this time when we sit to discuss seat-sharing," Pawar said addressing a meeting of party functionaries.

"While finalising seat-sharing we should remember that we have won more seats...our position has improved," he said.

NCP was a key constituent of Congress-led UPA I and II and has been running the Democratic Front government in Maharashtra as a junior partner of the Congress for the last about 15 years.

During the last Assembly polls in 2009, NCP had contested 114 seats and Congress 174 in the 288-member House.

In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, NCP contested 21 seats and won four, while Congress managed to clinch just two of the 27 seats it fought, the worst-ever showing by the party.

While Pawar, the tallest leader in the state's ruling alliance, appeared keen on extracting a larger pound of flesh from his down-in-the-dumps partner, his right hand man Praful Patel said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's failure to assert himself and "complete breakdown" of political dialogue between Congress and its allies led to the rout.

"Our opponents launched a malicious campaign against the UPA government and they were successful. It was the responsibility of the Congress, as UPA's single largest party, to counter the disinformation campaign in which it failed," he said.

Patel said even Sharad Pawar was not consulted on important issues.

"It looked as if it was a Congress government and not a UPA government. The political discourse what was there in UPA I was missing in UPA II," he said.

"The Prime Minister was not seen for two months and it was Rahul (Gandhi) who led the campaign," Patel said.

Pointing to the success of Trinamool Congress, AIADMK, BJD, TDP and TRS, Pawar said it seemed the people rejected those who were with the UPA.

He lamented that decisions like bringing Food Security Act did not fetch the alliance desired electoral success.

"There was a seven-month delay in implementation of the scheme in Maharashtra," he said.

He also said decisions like Rajiv Gandhi Health Scheme and provision of low interest loans failed to enthuse voters.

"The polls have shown that some sections have gone away from us. For example traders were annoyed with LBT (local body tax). The other was issue of Maratha reservations. Effort should be made to implement this without affecting quotas for others," he said.

A section in the ruling coalition wants job quotas for the powerful Maratha community introduced before the Assembly elections to regain lost ground.

"We will have to go into the causes. We have to go to people. We have to avoid vulgar display of wealth. We have to foster commitment to people afresh," he said.

After June 15, party leaders should go to districts and hold rallies and meetings with various strata of the society, he said.

We have to take certain long term steps. We have to plan effective ways to celebrate Babasaheb Ambedkar 125th birth anniversary, Pawar said, apparently trying to reach out to the Congress-NCP's traditional Dalit vote base, a substantial chunk of which has drifted away.

"Social reformer Shahu Maharaj said the government has to be for the people. We have to commemorate the deeds of such great people. If development does not have social integration aspect to it, then it lacks something," he said.