Mumbai: Union minister and senior Congress leader Vilasrao Deshmukh said on Tuesday that his party and the NCP will tonight hold their first formal meeting on seat-sharing for Maharashtra Assembly polls.
Deshmukh’s statement comes amidst deadlock between the two parties over seat sharing in the state.
NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had yesterday said he was “too busy” with his work and had no plans to meet any Congress leader anytime soon to discuss seat-sharing. Pawar’s remarks came on a day when Congress chief Sonia Gandhi flew off to the state to start her campaigning.
“I am not scheduled to meet anybody (Congress leader) today or tomorrow knowing fully well about my commitments,” Pawar said yesterday.
Sonia Gandhi reached the state capital Mumbai Monday afternoon to launch the party’s election campaign.
The Congress-NCP alliance is ruling Maharashtra, which goes to poll on October 13. The two parties are in talks to finalise seat-sharing.
In the 2004 Assembly polls, the Congress contested 157 of the 288 seats and the NCP fought for 127 seats, leaving the rest to their allies. The NCP won 71 seats while the Congress got 69 seats.
In the April-May Lok Sabha elections, the Congress contested 25 of the 48 seats in the state and won 17, while the NCP got only eight of the 21 seats it contested.
It is on the basis of its performance in the general elections this year that the Congress plans to stake claim to almost 170 seats this time, say party sources.
“After the delimitation (of constituencies) and seeing the number of seats that we have in the Lok Sabha, we will stake claim to at least a dozen more seats than those we contested the last time,” a Congress leader involved with the party’s election preparations in the state said.
Pawar had said last week that he had appealed to the Congress to take a “pragmatic decision” for the alliance.
“We are expecting (the) Congress party to convey their thinking… they have to take a pragmatic step,” he said.
While launching the poll campaign, Sonia Gandhi recalled the Congress’ “deep bonds” with Mumbai and Maharashtra yesterday while urging the people of the state to return it back to power in the upcoming Assembly Elections.
The Congress’ aim had always been to serve and give justice to the common people of the country, Gandhi said while addressing party workers at the inauguration of the new party headquarters, the Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan in Mumbai.
“Mumbai and Maharashtra have a deep bond with the Congress, which was born here; even the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi presented his vision of the 21st century for India from Mumbai,” she pointed out.
“For the first time since 1991, people have voted the Congress back to power for a second time with a thumping majority,” she said referring to the April-May Lok Sabha polls.