At a brainstorming session to identify reasons for the loss and devise strategy to win in the Assembly polls, NCP chief Sharad Pawar made a pitch for his party getting more seats as part of the seat-sharing arrangement on the stength of its better performance in the Lok Sabha polls.
"Last time, when we got less seats than Congress in Lok Sabha polls, they said they should get more Assembly seats to contest. We should remember it this time when we sit to discuss seat-sharing," Pawar said addressing a meeting of party functionaries.
"While finalising seat-sharing we should remember that we have won more seats...our position has improved," he said. NCP was a key constituent of Congress-led UPA I and II and has been running the Democratic Front government in Maharashtra as a junior partner of the Congress for the last about 15 years.
During the last Assembly polls in 2009, NCP had contested 114 seats and Congress 174 in the 288-member House. In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, NCP contested 21 seats and won four, while Congress managed to clinch just two of the 27 seats it fought, the worst-ever showing by the party.
While Pawar, the tallest leader in the state's ruling alliance, appeared keen on extracting a larger pound of flesh from his down-in-the-dumps partner, his right hand man Praful Patel said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's failure to assert himself and "complete breakdown" of political dialogue between Congress and its allies led to the rout.
"Our opponents launched a malicious campaign against the UPA government and they were successful. It was the responsibility of the Congress, as UPA's single largest party, to counter the disinformation campaign in which it failed," he said. Patel said even Sharad Pawar was not consulted on important issues.
"It looked as if it was a Congress government and not a UPA government. The political discourse what was there in UPA I was missing in UPA II," he said. "The Prime Minister was not seen for two months and it was Rahul (Gandhi) who led the campaign," Patel said.