A WAR of words has broken out in the Opposition camp even before the results of the Assembly elections are out. With almost all exit polls predicting a comfortable win for the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena-led combine in the state, the Congress and the NCP have resorted to a blame game between themselves.
On Tuesday, NCP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Majeed Memon took a dig at the Congress. “(Congress president) Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka stayed away from the election campaign. Rahul Gandhi came but the Congress’ own leaders (in the state) were not seen with him during his public meetings. Only (NCP president) Sharad Pawar toiled hard during the election campaign. An alliance with the Congress was a compulsion for the NCP as the party was not in a position to contest the elections alone,” Memon said.
Memon’s remarks evoked a sharp response from the Congress, with the party’s state general secretary Rajan Bhonsale saying, “You do not really need an enemy when you have an ally such as the NCP,” he said.
Taking a further dig at the NCP, Bhonsale asked, “With the exception of Sharad Pawar, you did not see any other NCP leader campaign across the state. Despite facing health issues, an 80-year-old man had to travel across the state to hold public meetings.”
Later in the evening, senior spokespersons from both parties stepped in for some damage control. The NCP’s national spokesperson and Mumbai president, Nawab Malik, disowned Memon’s remarks.
“What he said is not the party’s line,” Malik said, adding that Memon was not a party spokesperson. “As far as the NCP is concerned, we feel that Congress and NCP workers unitedly fought the elections,” he said.
State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “Let’s wait for the election outcome.” Echoing Malik, he said, “The Congress and the NCP coordinated well during the election.”
Cong raises EVM ‘bogey’
A day after polling, the Congress once again raised the EVM ‘bogey’. State Congress president Vijay (Balasaheb) Thorat, on Tuesday, wrote to the state’s Chief Electoral Officer Baldev Singh demanding “immediate installation of network jammers in strongrooms and counting centres across the state”. The Congress has further demanded that 50 per cent of the EVMs should be matched with voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).