Solapur, Oct 8 (IANS) For the second time in five years, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has stated that the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) may merge in future.
At a function to inaugurate the office of Manohar Sapate, NCP candidate for Solapur, on Tuesday, Shinde reiterated his remark made ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that sparked a political speculation, though the NCP didn’t react.
“We both share a common ideology and are born out of the same roots (Congress). Both are fighting for national issues and have worked under leaders, like Indira Gandhi and Y.B. Chavan. The difference over which the NCP was born are no longer relevant,” he said.
Shinde admitted that both parties were now weary and their workers disenchanted. But through merger, both the parties could be revived by a towering leader like NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
“We both are in distress now. But he (Pawar) never mentions it. At an appropriate time, he may even express himself,” he said.
But Shinde didn’t specify the time-frame for the desired merger. The unity speculations started floating recently when Pawar met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.
Congress state spokesperson Sachin Sawant and NCP national spokesperson Jitendra Awhad also spoke on the occasion, which seemed charged up after Shinde’s remark.
Pawar floated the NCP in 1999 after splitting from the 134-year-old Congress on grounds of its leader Sonia Gandhi’s credentials and related issues.
The NCP joined hands with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre on two occasions and enjoyed three terms in power with the Congress in Maharashtra. They are Opposition allies since 2014 and now contesting the Assembly elections together.
With a spate of desertions of senior NCP leaders to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine, the BJP has been openly saying by 2024, the “influence of the Pawars” in Maharashtra politics would be over.