No merger with Cong, says Pawar

Pawar declared that the party would maintain to have its separate existence.
At the same time, the Union Agriculture Minister emphasised that the NCP’s attitude has been one of understanding and cooperation with the Congress and “will continue to be so”.

He said his party favoured working together with the Congress in the coming Assembly elections in Maharashtra and “we feel that the party’s (Congress) leadership feels the same way, whatever some leaders in the state may be saying”.

Pawar, whose party will be completing 10 years on June 10, dismissed the impression that the NCP was on the horns of a dilemma of whether or not to join the Congress as the issue of foreign origin of the Congress President Sonia Gandhi was no longer relevant.

Pawar’s remarks came close on the heels of the recent meeting his close associate and former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma had with Sonia Gandhi in which he apologised to her for whatever that had happened 10 years back on the issue of her foreign origin. Gandhi was “gracious enough” and told Sangma that “past is past. Forget it”. Sangma’s meeting with Gandhi had led to the belief that the process of merger of the NCP with the Congress has begun especially at a time when Pawar’s party has not done that well in the recent LS elections.

Pawar conceded that the party has received setback in the LS polls as it could secure only nine seats as against the expected 15. Acknowledging that the vote share of the NCP in Maharashtra was 19.4 pc as against 19.8 pc of the Congress, he said: “The fact is that we will have to work hard in coming days”.

Pawar who parted ways with Congress on the foreign origin issue of Sonia a decade back is sharing power her party in Maharashtra for almost 10 years and has been a part of the UPA the Centre since 2004.

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