‘Time for NCP to merge with Congress’


New Delhi: A senior Congress leader here Tuesday said time had come for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to merge with it since the reason for the formation of the NCP was no longer relevant.

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“The issue is no longer relevant and the existence of NCP thus has no purpose. This is the time for the NCP to merge with the Congress,” the leader told IANS requesting anonymity for he is not entitled to publicly discuss strategy issues.

Congress leaders Sharad Pawar, P.A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar had quit the party in 1999 to form the NCP over the foreign origin of party president Sonia Gandhi.

Speculation about the merger started after Sangma, a former Lok Sabha speaker, apologised to Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the episode in June this year.

The Congress leader said for his party, the NCP was a “safety valve of sorts”.

“The disgruntled elements of Congress prefer to join the NCP instead of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). And NCP in any case is an ally,” he pointed out.

Last week, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh had also said the merger will be in the interest of NCP chief Pawar.

“If Pawar wants his daughter or any other relative to become Maharashtra chief minister, it is imperative that the NCP merges with the Congress,” Digvijaya Singh had told reporters in Bhopal Thursday night.

However, Pawar has repeatedly refused the possibilities of joining back the Congress.

The Congress-NCP alliance is ruling Maharashtra since 1999 and is once again contesting assembly polls together next month. Both are partners in the ruling coalition at the centre.