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Sangma ousts Pawar as NCP chief

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi/PTI | January 24, 2004 19:22 IST
Last Updated: January 24, 2004 22:05 IST

Senior Nationalist Congress Party leaders P A Sangma and V C Shukla on Saturday ruled out entering into an electoral alliance with the Congress.

The two leaders said that such an alliance is against the very principle on which the party was founded. A convention called by them decided to oust Sharad Pawar and appoint Sangma to the post of party president.

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The meeting, attended by their supporters from all over the country, authorised Sangma to decide on the electoral strategy 'in a manner consistent with the stand he has already taken' and to apprise the Election Commission about these developments.

Earlier, Sangma and veteran leader from Chhattisgarh V C Shukla came out of the meeting convened by Pawar at the NCP office in Delhi and announced their decision to align with the National Democratic Alliance.

Addressing mediapersons, Sangma said, "What has happened is a painful decision. We have been trying to build this party for the last four-and-a-half years and during this tenure it has emerged as a recognised national party with wide support.

"Unfortunately differences had cropped up over matters of policy, ideology and strategy. A person of foreign origin cannot hold the office of prime minister because it is related to national identity, national prestige and self-respect and, maybe, independence of the country itself," Sangma said.

Sharad Pawar"There is no question of V C Shukla and myself aligning with a Congress-led alliance," he told reporters at his house after they had a 90-minute meeting with Pawar.

"I have my fullest respect for Sharad Pawar who is a tall and powerful political figure with whom I have worked for many years. He has his own compulsions. I have my own and Shukla has his own. These political compulsions have led us to separate from each other. However, we will continue to respect each other," he said.

Sangma had a separate 45-minute meeting with Shukla. Since the ground situation in Chhattisgarh is different because of the just concluded assembly elections, Shukla has opted to float his own regional outfit.

V C ShuklaSangma will approach the Election Commission on January 27 and stake claim to the party name and its symbol (clock). Sangma, a resolution passed by the convention said, will write to the Election Commission requesting it to take cognizance of the developments.

He thanked people for their support and solidarity.

NCP treasurer Praful Patel said what Sangma has done is illegal. He insisted that the issue of alliances was discussed with the party and that the NCP is behind Pawar.

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