In a major setback to the Congress in Gujarat ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Nationalist Congress Party on Saturday announced candidates for eight seats, indicating that the tie-up between the two parties in the state has broken.
Blaming the Congress for the break-up, state NCP president Jayant Patel said, "I have declared eight candidates for the Lok Sabha seats...Congress has behaved in an arbitrary way. It has declared candidates for 25 out of 26 seats in their own way and said that they have kept Surat for us."
"We had demanded two seats of Rajkot and Ahmedabad (West). Now we will fight almost on all the 26 seats," Patel said.
The Congress and the NCP had fought in an alliance to stop the 'division of secular votes' in the state in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and the 2007 state assembly polls. In the 2002 state assembly elections, when the Congress and NCP had fought separately, the results were affected with almost 15 seats going in favour of the BJP, the NCP leader said.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Arjun Modhvadia said, "This is an unfortunate development as we are alliance partners at the national level. But, I don't think that it will affect poll results in any way."
The Bharatiya Janata Party poll managers are happy with the development as they are going to gain in the state, sources in the party said. In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, Congress had given the Rajkot seat to NCP, which the party lost to the BJP.
In the 2007 assembly polls, NCP, which had fought in alliance with the Congress, won three out of the eleven seats given to it. NCP's sitting Member of Legislative Assembly from Gondal Chandubhai Vaghasia and senior party leader Bholabhai Patel will contest Rajkot and Ahmedabad (East) constituencies respectively.
The party has given Surendranagar ticket to daughter of Congress MLA Babu Meghji Shah, Jagruti while on Dahod seat they have fielded Kalsinh Meda. On the Bharuch seat Iqubal Afinwala will be contesting while former Congress minister in state government Madhubhai Bhuva will fight from Amreli seat. Mangal Gandhi will contest Gandhinagar seat against L K Advani, while Yogesh Naik will fight from Navsari seat.
"I will be contesting from Anand seat. We will soon declare names of candidates for other seats," Patel said.