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Cong-NCP marriage on the rocks

Partners at state level may contest the polls independently after Kamat's letter to Sonia questions the need for the alliance

After congressman Gurudas Kamat wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, asking the party chief for the need to maintain close ties with the National Congress Party for the upcoming civic polls, analysts fear the two parties may be heading for a split.

Kamat raised concern over NCP's demand for 65 out of the 227 seats in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the eventuality that their alliance wins a majority. Kamat reportedly told Gandhi that he was capable of winning the polls on his own strength alone.

NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had earlier announced that his party would not tie up with the Congress in Pune and Pimpri polls. Kamat said that such statements by NCP leaders caused a lot of confusion.
"Such statements have caused tremendous agony and pain to loyal Congress workers. (...) There is no doubt that an alliance of secular parties was important to keep corrupt and communal parties away from power in Mumbai civic body. But, this cannot be (continued) at the cost of self- respect and on the basis of unjustified demands," said Kamat.

On Saturday, Kamat demanded an immediate meeting of the Mumbai Congress executive committee to discuss the proposed alliance with the NCP for the BMC polls that begin in February.

Party insiders expressed surprise over Kamat's stand as alliance talks were given a go-ahead by the Congress supremo. Ahmad Patel, Gandhi's political secretary has been keeping a tab over the talks between the two parties, a senior Congress leader revealed.

In a meeting between Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Kamat on Saturday evening, it was decided that the views of senior party leaders will be taken into consideration before making a decision. Chavan is reportedly keen on the alliance.

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