He may have buried the hatchet with Sonia Gandhi, but P A Sangma says there is no question of either his joining the Congress nor the Nationalist Congress Party merging with it. The former Lok Sabha Speaker, who met Congress president Gandhi and patched up with her ten years after raking up the issue of her foreign origin, on Saturday said that "the question of my joining the Congress does not arise at all".
He was reacting to reports that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had extended an invitation to him to join the party, from which he was expelled, along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar. Sangma said he met the prime minister in Parliament and extended the invitation to him for the reception of his son's wedding. The issue of his joining the Congress did not figure in the conversation.
"I am fully with Sharad Pawar. He is my leader," he said. On the merger of NCP with the Congress, as demanded by several Congress leaders on the ground that Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin issue was no longer relevant, he said the NCP has gained the status of a national party.
"It has its own identity. Sharad Pawar is a leader in his own right. So, where is the question of the NCP merging with Congress," he said.
Sangma said the NCP, with its separate identity, would continue to support the United Progressive Alliance government and cooperate with the Congress. "We are with the Congress at the Centre, we are with the Congress in Maharashtra as well as in Goa. Though our attempt to join hands with Congress did not click in Meghalaya, we will continue to cooperate with them," he said.
Asked about the demands of some Congress leaders, that the party should go it alone in the coming Maharashtra assembly elections, Sangma said it would be the high command of the two parties which would take decisions on policy matters.
"Individual opinion does not make any sense as the high command or the Congress Working Committee will take policy decisions," he said.