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Issue No.: 561 | March 2014

NCP’s Tango

Ashok Karnik
The National Congress Party (NCP), in alliance with the Congress for years, is now showing signs of unease. The alliance was convenient for both as it enabled them to govern a state like Maharashtra for over a decade. At the Centre, the NCP was never a threat to the Congress but even its single digit numbers were a help in a crisis. The marriage is showing signs of discord suddenly. Is it because the NCP thinks that it would be foolish to sink with the Congress? NCP’s Sharad Pawar is known to be street smart in calculating the profits and losses in politics and has perhaps decided that it is time to dance to a different tune. NCP’s sudden realization that court judgments clearing Narendra Modi of blame for the 2002 communal riots need to be respected, creates doubts about his intentions. Is it an attempt to cozy up to BJP despite talks of abiding understanding with the Congress? Portends are grave for the UPA as the NCP starts recalibrating the power equations.

NCP which is really a Maharashtra-centric party with small numbers in Parliament can shrewdly tilt the balance in a hung house. Pawar has kept personal contacts with all parties and is acceptable to all as a senior statesman. Is he planning to play his last card before his health fails and age takes over? Does he plan to emerge as a mediator and crisis manager post 2014 elections? NCP’s battle of wits with the Congress in Maharashtra is a regular feature of the state’s politics. It seems to be getting sharper by the day as elections near. NCP does not want to be blamed for the Centre’s unpopularity but has its own sins to hide in the state. It is like a wife preparing for  divorce but unwilling to leave the safety of the matrimonial home. Even if the alliance survives the voting stage, it would be seriously tested after the elections. New combinations of dubious durability seem to be in the offing.

Every issue has at least two sides. A wise man examines all sides before coming to a conclusion. This is an attempt to present various sides of an issue so that a considered  opinion can be formed.

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