Back at work after six days, Rahul meets Sharad Pawar, Kumaraswamy

Cong.-NCP merger not discussed, say sources

After keeping away from political meetings for six days, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday called on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar at the latter’s residence to discuss the political situation.

Though the meeting led to speculation about a possible merger of the NCP and the Congress, a source close to Mr. Pawar categorically denied it.

“It never came up for discussion,” the source said and added the two leaders analysed the Lok Sabha election results at the meeting that went on for over an hour.

The two leaders are said to have agreed that the Opposition parties need to focus on the key States that go to the polls later this year, including Maharashtra.

After insisting on stepping down as party chief and refusing to meet any party leader, Mr. Gandhi drove down to Mr. Pawar’s residence. “Mr. Pawar got the impression that Mr. Gandhi will continue for now,” said the NCP source.

Earlier, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy met Mr. Gandhi at his residence for a meeting, joined by former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. The leaders discussed the political situation in Karnataka where the Congress is facing dissidencefrom a section of its MLAs.

“The CM apprised Rahul Gandhi of the current political situation in the state and said the coalition government in the State is functioning smoothly with cooperation and coordination between both the parties,” an official statement from the Karnataka Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).

Mr. Kumaraswamy on Wednesday had already asked the Congress chief to continue to lead the party and is learnt to have repeated the suggestion at their meeting.

The Congress chief also took to Twitter to congratulate the newly-elected chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

“Congratulations to Jagan Reddyji on being sworn in as the CM of Andhra Pradesh. My best wishes to him, his new team of ministers and to all the people of the state,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.

In separate meetings, senior party leader Ahmed Patel met senior Karnataka leader Mallikarjun Kharge at the All India Congress Commiitee (AICC) headquarters and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh, both of whom lost in the elections.

The series of meetings comes ahead of Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting on June 1, where the newly-elected Congress MPs will elect their leader, the post that is being currently held by Sonia Gandhi.

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