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Sena, NCP Distance From Congress In Maharashtra, Patole Stoking Fire

Distance between Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and the Congress party in Maharashtra is widening. The latest provocation is Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole’s assertion that the earlier ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was not a ‘natural’ alliance. Sena’s unilateral decision to install its MLC Ambadas Danve as leader of the opposition in the state upper house has exposed older wounds in MVA. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has backed the Sena, isolating the Congress further. Former chief minister Ashok Chavan has attempted damage control by claiming that Patole’s statement was his ‘personal view’ though he concurred that Uddhav’s step was taken without consulting the Congress. On the other hand, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the party with the largest number of MLCs can automatically become the main opposition party. Pawar is the opposition leader in the assembly. NCP also had ignored the Congress earlier when its senior leaders called on chief minister Eknath Shinde to greet him. At that time, the NCP had informed neither the Sena nor the Congress. This had angered both. During the MVA regime, the assembly’s speakership was with the Congress. But Nana Patole, who was the speaker then, had resigned and the post was vacant till the Shinde-Fadnavis alliance elected Colaba MLA Rahul Narvekar to it after coming to power.