In a bid to start planning for the crucial 2019 Assembly polls where 48 Lok Sabha seats and 288 assembly seats are up for grabs, newly-anointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi will soon convene a meeting with Maharashtra leaders and fast track the revival of the party organisation and increase its tally. To that end, Rahul has sent a missive to the state leaders that he will soon carry out his own ‘internal assessment’ to determine the party’s strengths and weaknesses and later take a call on striking a pre-poll alliance or seat adjustment with NCP and like-minded parties.Rahul’s initiative assumes importance in light of the fact that in the 2012 general elections, the party had been routed in the state and bagged just two LS seats in Nanded and Hingoli. It also managed only 42 seats in the state Assembly. In the subsequent local and civic body polls, Congress again failed to take on the mighty BJP effectively.Former minister Balasaheb Thorat, who headed the Congress party’s steering committee for Gujarat election, told DNA, “The state unit is quite serious about regaining power in Maharashtra and quite open to ally with NCP and other like-minded parties. However, state leaders are of the view that the Congress party should neither play second-fiddle to NCP nor should it blindly agree for a pre-poll alliance. Therefore, the state party unit expects to soon meet Congress president and work out the future course of action.”As far as NCP is concerned, state spokesman Nawab Malik said his party hopes the Congress will take a lead to form a broader anti-BJP alliance in the state. “Congress should not underestimate the presence of NCP and other parties in masses, and seriously consider this factor while forging an alliance,” he noted.
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