New Delhi: Tough negotiations between
the Congress and NCP for the coming Assembly elections in
Maharashtra were said to be on amidst indications NCP might
settle for less than what it had contested in the previous
"Discussions are continuing on positive lines," AICC
General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said even as Congress
President Sonia Gandhi skirted any reference to the
10-year-old alliance during her brief visit to Mumbai today.
Chances of a meeting between Gandhi and NCP President
Shard Pawar may be possible only on or after Wednesday when
she will be back from her visit to Bangalore on Tuesday.
Congress sources said that 80 per cent chances were
there for continuing the alliance which could be clinched in
the next few days. The next few days till Friday, considered
inauspicious because of the `pitru paksh`, appears to be
another factor hampering taking of crucial decisions.
The extent of hard bargaining, the sources said,
could be gauged from the fact that each seat was being
discussed thoroughly in view of the situation caused by the
Congress is said to have staked its claim on 10 to 20
seats more than what it had contested in the last polls. In
the 2004 elections, Congress had contested 166 seats, while
the NCP 122.
Pawar had yesterday that he does not not favour collapse of
the alliance "for two to four seats", while another NCP leader
Praful Patel had expressed readiness to contest less number of
seats than in 2004.
Party sources say that Congress which had contested
164 of 288 seats in last assembly election is looking for 175
to 185 seats this time after its better performance in Lok
Sabha elections in Maharashtra.
At the AICC briefing in Delhi, Party spokesman
Abhishek Singhvi, however, kept the suspense on over
the issue saying "there is no question of confirmation or
denial at this stage," when asked whether the Congress-NCP
alliance will materialise or not.
To another query whether doubts still exist about the
alliance, Singhvi added,"as long as there is no announcement,
how can we definitely say about it."
He also maintained "whether alliance happens or not,
any decision will be taken keeping in mind the best interests
of the people of Maharashtra".
A party leader said that NCP which had contested 122
seats last time should come down somewhere between 103 and
Nominations for the polls open on September 18 and
close on September 25 and as such a decision is likely to be
announced shortly over the fate of the alliance.