NCP will not merge with Congress, says party leader


Mumbai: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will never merge with the Congress and will continue to maintain its independent identity, a top party office-bearer said here Wednesday.

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Setting at rest all speculation, NCP Maharashtra unit chief R.R. Patil said: “We know there are many people who are waiting for a merger of the NCP and the Congress. Let them wait for another hundred years, NCP will celebrate its centenary year too.”

He was addressing a meeting of party workers this afternoon to mark the NCP’s 10th anniversary.

Recounting the party’s growth in the decade, Patil said that in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections it had bagged nine seats while the Congress had won 13 seats in Maharashtra. However, in the state assembly elections that year, the NCP won 71 seats and became the largest single party.

Highlighting a performance on similar lines this year, Patil said the NCP would bag at least 100 seats in the assembly elections due later this year.

The milestone celebrations this year were a muted affair with top party leaders including the founder-members like its chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, P.A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar, and senior leader Praful Patel abstaining from the meet.

However, Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal marked his presence and addressed the gathering.

The NCP also announced the suspension of its senior leader and Osmanabad MP Padamsinh Patil from the party. Patil was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Sunday on charges of murdering his cousin and Congress leader Pavan Raje Nimbalkar and his driver Samad Qazi, in July 2006. He is in CBI custody till June 14.