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Sangma's forum will support NDA, NCP on brink of split

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | January 19, 2004 20:10 IST
Last Updated: January 19, 2004 21:15 IST

The Purno Sangma-led North Eastern Peoples Forum on Monday decided to align with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Nagaland Chief Minister N Rio, who chaired the meeting of the NEPF's executive committee, has been authorised to take up the matter of joining the NDA.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Sangma said he would have a final meeting in Delhi with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Chhattisgarh NCP leader V C Shukla on January 24.

Pawar and Sangma, along with Tariq Anwar, had formed the NCP in 1999 after defecting from the Congress over the issue of its chief, Sonia Gandhi's, foreign origins.

Pawar has made it clear that the NCP will have an understanding with the Congress in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Sangma, however, wants the party to align with the NDA.

"Under no circumstances can I align with the Congress. I will appeal to Sharad Pawar to change his proposal (of going with that party)," Sangma told reporters in a veiled attack on Sonia Gandhi after the NEPF meeting.

He refused to answer questions about who, between him and NCP president Sharad Pawar, has the majority support in the party.

Today's development indicated that this proposed January 24 meeting could be a mere formality ahead of the parting of ways.

With inputs from PTI

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