The NCPp embracing Congress dissident V.C. Shukla in Chhattisgarh and its overt flirtations with disgruntled veteran K. Karunakaran in Kerala has given the Congress leadership more reasons to be upset. The high command sees this as the latest example of the NCP's perennial game of backstabbing. But there's a catch. The success of the Congress-NCP combine in this month's elections to local bodies in Maharashtra means NCP supremo Sharad Pawar may once again get away with fishing in troubled waters.
While a marginalised Shukla hitched his wagon to Pawar's, Karunakaran hasn't done so despite loaded signals. "These are separate states. Why should events in one state affect another?" says CWC member and Maharashtra in-charge Vyalar Ravi, who won a Rajya Sabha seat against Karunakaran's nominee in the April 14 poll. "Our alliance is limited to Maharashtra," counters NCP MP and spokesman Praful Patel. "Or else, we will have to close shop in other states. In any case, our overtures in Meghalaya and Gujarat were not acceptable to the Congress."