The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangma and Pawar split

New Delhi, Jan. 24: The Nationalist Congress Party suffered a three-way split today as P.A. Sangma got himself named party president in Sharad Pawar’s place, paving the way for a poll tie-up with the National Democratic Alliance.

Chhattisgarh leader V.C. Shukla also parted company with Pawar. Shukla has decided not to stay in the NCP, which he joined three months ago, but form a regional outfit that will align with the NDA.

“We claim to be the real NCP and will urge the Election Commission to take cognisance of the facts and the new reality,” Sangma said after a meeting of his supporters at his official residence here. He will approach the poll panel on January 27. The meeting authorised Sangma to work out an electoral understanding with the NDA and also form the party’s executive.

Pawar’s supporters termed his replacement as party chief “illegal” and expelled Sangma and five others for “anti-party activities”, adds PTI. But the Pawar camp took no action against Shukla, as he had not attended the convention at Sangma’s residence.

Other than Sangma, those who face the axe are working committee members Salamutallah, Gurusharan Singh Dadawoo, B.B. Dutta, Bolin Kuli and Veena Nayyar, president of the NCP’s mahila wing, party general secretary Tariq Anwar said.

Earlier, Sangma and Shukla held an hour-long meeting at party spokesman Praful Patel’s residence. The two leaders — who stuck to their stand of not aligning with the Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi — held a separate 45-minute meeting at Sangma’s residence. They then jointly announced their separation from Pawar.

“We two will work together under the NDA umbrella, though we will have separate identities,” Sangma said in Shukla’s presence.

Sonia’s foreign origin, Sangma said, was the battery of the NCP. Without it, the NCP’s clock (the party symbol) will not run, he said.

But Patel dismissed Sangma’s claim of being the new NCP president. “Hundred per cent Sharad Pawar is the NCP president,” he said.

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