Loksabha election

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Congress NCP alliance for Maharashtra polls may take couple of more days

Talks between Congress and NCP to seal an alliance for the Maharashtra polls may take a couple of days in view of Congress's keeness to identify seats alongwith the proportion that each party will contest. NCP could contest around 114-115 seats while Congress may get 174-175 seats.

Congress NCP alliance was expected to have been announced on Monday but the exercise to complete indentification of seats is understood to have held up an announcement. Congress expects three seats where Shiv Sena MLAs crossed over and another three where independents joined the party to be part of its share.

In addition to these seats, Congress is pressing for a few seats more which the party feels should fall to its share through the process of delimitation. The talks have been subject to some suspense as NCP boss Sharad Pawar is yet to clinch an agreement with Congress even though he has appeared reconciled to accepting lesser seats than the 122 his party contested in 2004.

The final bargaining for seats seems to make the high-decibel calls for Congress to go it alone look like mere posturing. Some argue that tough talk by leaders like former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh helped mellow the NCP. But NCP's bargaining position had already been weakened by the Lok Sabha result where it won eight seats in Maharashtra to Congress's 17. But it has been evident that narrow margins for assembly segments projected by Lok Sabha results do not leave room for complacency.

Some leaders in Congress claim that even on its own, the party could be in a position to win around 110 seats and emerge the single largest party in a House of 288. They feel the party can then strike an alliance with NCP on its own terms. But this school of thought seems to be in a minority. The party is looking to leverage its improved performance as well as Pawar's compulsions of being a UPA partner at the Centre.

In Mumbai, Congress president Sonia Gandhi launched her party's campaign on Monday for the October 13 assembly election but did not utter a word about a pre-poll alliance with NCP.

Complimenting voters for supporting the Congress in the recent Lok Sabha election, she hoped that they would repeat their performance in the upcoming polls.

She has, however, asked defence minister A K Antony to convene a meeting with Maharashtra leaders in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the issue threadbare.

Both the Congress and the NCP have kept their list of probable candidates for all 288 seats ready in case the pre-poll tie-up does not materialise.

Source : Times of India


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