Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
New Delhi, Aug 26
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar is extremely worried over the internal crisis developing in the Congress Party. Since the Congress is the catalyst for the unity among the Opposition parties in the country, any weakening at this juncture will have a direct bearing on the stability of many Opposition ruled states.
It was primarily because of this very reason that he deputed his Man-Friday and NCP general secretary Praful Patel to keep a close watch on the development and get an update at the earliest. It was perhaps because of this very reason that Praful Patel rushed here from Mumbai yesterday and is camping here.
When contacted, Praful Patel told Lokmat, “We have no role in the internal affairs of the Congress. Of course, it’s a matter of concern as we are running a government in Maharashtra in alliance with Congress and any such development may have a bearing.” When asked if he had talked to Congress leaders, he smiled and said, “We talk to everybody on a daily basis. We want Congress to be strengthened and become a strong party so that the Maharashtra experiment can be taken at the national level.” However, he declined to say anything on the issue and also clarified that the main purpose of his visit here was to attend the meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Finance.
If sources are to be believed, many top Congress leaders were talking to Praful Patel on a daily basis. The NCP sees an opportunity in the Congress if there is another split in the party as it happened in 1999. “Any such development will prove the point Sharad Pawar has been making for a long time that Rahul Gandhi is not capable of leading the Congress,” said another senior NCP leader on the condition of anonymity. Patel is understood to have briefed Pawar on the internal crisis which has been pushed under the carpet for now.