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MPCC chief says he never issued any ultimatum to Pawar
October 13, 2003 14:38 IST
Last Updated: October 13, 2003 19:13 IST
Maharashtra Congress chief Ranjit Deshmukh on Monday denied issuing any ultimatum to Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar on the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra following the latter's comments on Sonia Gandhi's foreign origins.
In Delhi to meet his party president, Deshmukh on Monday cleared the air on his controversial comments.
"What I had said was that Pawar speaks one thing in Maharashtra and another outside. He should clarify his stand," Deshmukh told reporters at a press conference.
He denied issuing an ultimatum to the NCP that it would face "dire consequences", including the Congress pulling out of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, if Pawar failed to reconsider his remarks on Gandhi.
To another question about party MP Suresh Kalmadi's suggestion that it was the right time to break relations with the NCP, Deshmukh said this was the view of the party workers.
The Congress high command would take the final decision on ties with the NCP in Maharashtra, he said.
The NCP welcomed Deshmukh's climbdown on the ultimatum to Pawar. "This is a good statement as far as the government is concerned," NCP spokesperson Praful Patel told PTI in Mumbai on Monday.
Meanwhile in Jodhpur (Rajasthan), NCP general secretary P A Sangma on Monday said the Congress would lose its identity under Gandhi's leadership in the next Lok Sabha polls.
"Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin is still the main issue before the people who cannot accept a person with a foreign origin as the prime minister. If she can become the prime minister of India, why can't (former US president) Bill Clinton or (former British prime minister) Margaret Thatcher?"
The NCP is willing to support the party if its puts up someone other than Sonia as its prime ministerial candidate. Sangma suggested the names of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Uttaranchal Chief Minister N D Tiwari or former Union finance minister and senior leader Pranab Mukherjee.
For the coming assembly polls in Rajasthan, the NCP intends to forge a third front with the CPI, CPI-M, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (S) to fight both the Congress and the BJP.
More reports from Maharashtra
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