Maharashtra Assembly polls: Congress-NCP alliance on shaky ground
Like Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, troubles appeared to have cropped up in the rival camp also with NCP virtually giving an ultimatum to the Congress to decide seat sharing for the Assembly polls in a day.
Mumbai/New Delhi: Like Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, troubles appeared to have cropped up in the rival camp also with NCP virtually giving an ultimatum to the Congress to decide seat sharing for the Assembly polls in a day.
The Sharad Pawar-led party has gone on the offensive as it pitched for as many as 144 seats after rejecting the 124 seats offered to it by Congress. Maharastra Assembly has a total of 288 seats.
In a press conference in Mumbai, NCP Vice President Praful Patel gave Congress a day to respond on the issue of seat- sharing for the Oct. 15 Assembly polls in Maharashtra, saying the party would not wait any longer.
"The filing of nominations has begun. We can wait for a day more for Congress's response on our proposal on the quantum of seats," Patel told reporters even as he clarified that it was not meant to be an ultimatum.
There has been no response from Congress to our demand for 144 seats despite top leaders of the two parties meeting weeks ago, said Patel, a confidant of NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
"We received a proposal that NCP should contest 124 seats, 10 more than what we contested in 2009 polls. We want to clarify that 124 is the number of seats we contested in 2004," Patel said, adding that the old formula does not apply now after NCP got more seats than Congress in Maharashtra in the recent Lok Sabha polls.
He added, "We want some official intimation from them by tomorrow, failing which I will meet CM Prithviraj Chavan on Monday morning."
Asked if NCP would go it alone if need be, Patel said, "That option is open to all parties."
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena and BJP leaders today held talks to end the tangle over seat-sharing for the Assembly polls but failed to reach an agreement. The two oldest NDA allies, however, insisted that they did not want the alliance to come apart.
In New Delhi, Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre
said they had put the ball in NCP's court and said Pawar's party is yet to give a "positive response" to the former's proposal for seat-sharing.
After a meeting of the party's Central Election Committee (CEC) here, he said that Congress will have to prepare for all 288 seats in the state if a response from NCP does not come within a day or two.
He said Congress was racing against time to finalise nominations for the Oct. 15 polls and that time is of the essence for tying up the seat-sharing arrangement.
The CEC today held deliberations on the selection of candidates for the 174 seats in Maharashtra which the party had contested in the last Assembly polls.
Without going into the number of seats offered by Congress to NCP, Thakre said there has been no response so far to the proposal from NCP.
"If NCP remains adamant on its demand for more seats, then we will have to go it alone," he said in a reply to a query.
In the last Assembly elections, Congress had contested 174 seats while NCP had put up 114 candidates.
Congress and NCP have shared power in Maharashtra since 1999, soon after Pawar quit Congress on the issue of party chief Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin.
NCP has also been part of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre since 2004 and is the second-largest constituent in the opposition alliance.