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NCP, Congress rift may be temporary

NCP, Congress rift may be temporary

Congress Party is seeking to mount a united fight against the BJP. Mr. Shivakumar had recently been through gruelling Income Tax raids soon after he took on the onerous task of safeguarding 40-odd Gujarat Congress MLAs from being poached by the BJP before the Rajya Sabha poll.

Opposition unity took yet another hit on Friday with Sharad Pawar-led NCP deciding to skip a meeting called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to chalk out a strategy for the coming months.

NCP's "rift" with the Congress may be short-lived and the party may return to the opposition fold after getting some assurances from the grand old party.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who arrived here on Thursday, met senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel ahead of the Opposition meeting on Friday.

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The NCP decision to stay away from the meeting of opposition leaders, attended by Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Omar Abdullah (NC), Naresh Agarwal (SP), S C Mishra (BSP) among others, was Pawar's way of telling the Congress that smaller allies can not be taken for granted.

Rahul Gandhi said the BJP government must punish the guilty.

When asked about the absence of NCP at the meeting, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters he had personally spoken to Pawar, who in turn informed him that he was unwell and was therefore skipping the meeting.

A Congress leader said that invitations were being sent to opposition leaders for the mega protest in Gujarat and the party expected a good show at the satyagraha protest. She has been the longest serving Congress president in the 125-year history of the party after being re-elected for the fourth time in September 2010. Suggesting that the opposition parties had to build an "alternative narrative" to counter PM Narendra Modi and BJP, Yechury said, "This could be done through effective strategy and by taking up pro-people issues such as agrarian crisis".