Mumbai, Mar 20: Congress party’s troubles with allies had a new dimension today with NCP chief and Union Minister Sharad Pawar taking exception to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s comments on the attitude of allies, saying it has caused “anguish and unease” to the party.
Pawar described as a “sweeping statement” Singh comments in Parliament yesterday that difficult decisions were getting” more difficult” because of coalition compulsions.
“There is not even a single instance where we (NCP) have caused any hindrance (for the government). Making such a sweeping statement has caused anguish and unease for us. “I am the NCP chief. We have 15 MPs in Parliament. We have been working with this PM and the government for the last 7-8 years,” Pawar said.
There has been no occasion when the government took one decision and NCP another, Pawar said. “We maintain coalition dharma.”
His surpirse comments come in the backdrop of Congress party’s troubles with two key allies, Trinamool Congress and the DMK, with whom it has just bought peace with the Prime Minister succumbing to their demands.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee succeeded in having her party nominee Dinesh Trivedi replaced as Railway Minister over fare hike in the Rail budget.
The Prime Minister also placated DMK, which had threatened to pull out of government on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
Singh told Parliament that India was “inclined to” vote in favour of a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN that would advance “our objectives” with regard to the future of ethnic Tamils there.
Pawar said he was “pained” by the Prime Minister’s comments.
Asked if the UPA government’s stability would come under question, Pawar said he does not see any such thing happening. To another query, the Union minister ruled out possibility of mid-term polls.
Pawar clarified that his party had no grouse against the ruling coalition at the Centre and his reaction was limited only to the PM’s statement.
“We don’t have any other grouse against the UPA government. It is limited only to the PM’s statement. If he has issues with any (ally) party, the PM has the full right to take a position on it.
“We felt bad about the PM’s statement, because we (NCP) never acted like this (against coalition dharma),” Pawar maintained. ( Last Tuesday it was decided that there would be regular meetings of all UPA constituents, Pawar said. Accordingly, daily meetings have begun, he added.
Congress soft-pedalled Pawar’s remarks. “We have treated all our allies with extreme sensitivity and with utmost courtesy”, party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters in New Delhi when asked the NCP chief’s comments.
Tewari said that in a coalition arrangement, every political party does not come from the same political understanding.
“So, therefore, at times there is a divergence within the coalition with regard to your understanding on a particular issue. But that divergence essentially does not mean disconsonance in the coalition”, he said.
Congress, he said, works with its allies and “tries to walk that extra mile. We try to convince them with regard to the merits and imperatives of the proposals that we make. If we are not able to generate consensus, then whatever is the best sub-optimal solution available, we settle for that and that is the manner the coalition governments really run.”
He said this has been the experience of this country from 1996 till 2012 because “we have now been seeing coalition governments for over 15 years.”