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May 27, 1999
Pawar & Co launch Nationalist Congress
Expelled Congress politician Sharad Pawar today launched a parallel organisation called the Nationalist Congress Party with a sharp attack on Sonia Gandhi for her "tactical and strategic move" during this week's AICC session to distance herself from the prime ministership by leaving the issue to the parliamentary party.
Addressing a press conference, Pawar said the demand for barring persons of foreign origin from holding the office of prime minister is an issue of "national pride" and "prestige" and postponement of the issue by the Congress leadership to the post-election phase is only a tactic.
Pawar will be the president of the party and under an ad-hoc committee set up by him, P A Sangma and Tariq Anwar will be general secretaries.
The national executive will be constituted at the plenary session of the party at Bombay's Shanmukhananda Hall on June 10.
The Nationalist Congress party's election symbol will be decided in the next 15 days, Pawar said, adding that the necessary formalities are being gone through with the Election Commission.
Attacking the Congress for mismanagement of the political situation leading to dissolution of the Lok Sabha, he said the leadership had belied the people's expectation that it could provide a credible, stable, alternative government.
Pawar said the Nationalist Congress would have no truck with either the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party and would remain equidistant from both.
As for an alliance with other parties, he said the process would begin after the Bombay convention.
Meanwhile, the Indian National Congress (Socialist) today announced its decision to work with the newly formed Nationalist Congress following an assurance from Pawar that it would have no truck with the BJP, its allies, or the Congress.
Congress-S president Sarat Chandra Sinha said a plenary session of his party would be held in New Delhi on June 6 to finalise its future course of action.
Party general secretary T P Peethambaran said they had detailed discussions with Pawar, who is himself a former president of the party, on working together.
Asked if there would be any fallout of this new alliance on the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala in which the Congress-S is a partner, Peethambaran said there would not be any problem. Their alliance with Pawar would only strengthen the LDF, he said.
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