PUNE, OCTOBER 3
NATIONALIST Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has denied MNS chief Raj Thackerays claim that he engineered the split between BJP and Shiv Sena.
Speaking at a campaign rally on Thursday, the MNS chief had claimed that Pawar had conveyed to the BJP leaders that the NCP would break ties with the Congress if they broke their alliance with the Sena. On September 26, the NCP announced its decision to break the alliance, within an hour of the BJP making the decision to part ways with the Sena public.
Addressing the media in Pune on Friday, Pawar denied the charge. I played no role whatsoever in the Sena-BJP break up. I must thank Raj Thackeray for portraying me as a leader who can influence the decisions of a rival national party. We announced our decision to break the alliance with the Congress the same day because there wasnt much time left. With only 24 hours to go for the nomination filing deadline, we had to announce our decision so that we could file nominations for all Assembly constituencies, said Pawar.
Pawar said he did not anticipate that the NCP would be forced to take the extreme step, as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and several other senior Congress leaders had appeared extremely positive about continuation of the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra.
When I met Sonia Gandhi, she was extremely positive about the continuation of the alliance in the state. Several other senior leaders also shared her feelings. We also had several rounds of meetings with national leaders and state leaders. However, while these talks were on, we learnt that the Congress had announced a list of 110 candidates, which also contained names of constituencies which we had demanded. This showed their intentions, so we did not have any other option but to fight alone, said Pawar, adding that the party had prepared to contest only 130-135 seats and, hence, had to do a lot of running around at the last moment to field candidates from all constituencies.
Pawar also said the Narendra Modi wave would not be a factor and ruled out a post-poll alliance with the BJP.