NCP joins LDF in Kerala

Formally announcing its decision to join the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala, the NCP, however, clarified that it would continue to remain in the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre.

“If the Congress does not give us space, we will try and make our own space,” NCP general secretary D P Tripathi told journalists in Delhi.

Tripathi said the NCP would contest the next year’s assembly elections in Kerala as a constituent of the LDF. He also said that the NCP would mobilise secular parties and try to form secular and democratic fronts in Assam, which would also go to polls next year, and other states.

The NCP leader said the party would go with smaller parties if the Congress did not have an alliance with it in poll-bound Bihar. “We would like to be with the Congress, but the Congress does not want our party to be with it,” said Tripathi.

The Congress had already made it clear that it would possibly go alone in Bihar.
The NCP’s moves came at a time when its supremo and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s request to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to lessen his burden triggered speculations over a possible reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers. Pawar also holds the food and civil supplies as well as consumer affairs and public distribution portfolios. He took over as president of the International Cricket Council recently.
Pawar is believed to be keen to retain agriculture. He apparently wants his other portfolios to be re-allocated to someone from his party itself.

“The coalition principles state that the share of the constituent parties should not be reduced or taken away. We wish our share in the government to remain with us. But it is for the PM to decide,” said Tripathi.

The Congress, however, played down the NCP’s move to tie up with non-Congress secular parties in different states. “The NCP fought elections against Congress in some states earlier also. But it must not be forgotten that the two parties are not only running a coalition government in Maharashtra since 1999 and that both the Congress and the NCP are constituents of the ruling UPA,” the All India Congress Committee spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

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