NCP blames Congress for its downfall

Akola (Maharashtra): Launching a sharp offensive at its erstwhile partner, senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel has squarely blamed the Congress for his party's downfall. He also accused the Congress of "conspiring" to defame the NCP at all times even during their 15-year long alliance in Maharasthra and at the central level during the Congress-led UPA rule. "You sank, but you took us along. Presently, we have no political tie-ups at the state or national levels," said the former Union Minister, indicating strained relations between the two erstwhile partners. Addressing a rally of party workers here and in Washim in Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra last evening, Patel also trained guns at former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan of the Congress. "There were no 'scams', but it was a conspiracy by the Congress and its leaders like Prithviraj Chavan to defame us. But, we have the capability to swim back. They did not view so many enemies in the BJP as they did in the NCP," he said. Patel rued that in the past five years, his party and workers have suffered because of the Congress, which "sank" and took down the NCP with it. The Congress reacted mildly to the NCP leader's statements, with state spokesperson Sachin Sawant saying that "they (NCP) just want to keep the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in good humour". Patel's statements assume significant in the wake of the upcoming February 2017 civic elections in big civic bodies including Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, which they are hoping to contest jointly. The 15-year long alliance between Congress-NCP had snapped just before the October 2014 assembly elections in which the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition returned to power after 15 years.