`I will not break alliance with Cong for a few seats`
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Last Updated: Monday, September 14, 2009, 00:15
New Delhi: Amid tough bargaining with the Congress for seat sharing in the next month's Assembly elections, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Sunday night said he would not like the alliance to break up for the sake of a few seats.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is leaving for Mumbai tomorrow to attend a party event as party sources said formal seat-sharing between the two ruling coalition partners in Mahrashtra may begin tomorrow.

Gandhi had a meeting with Defence Minister and AICC in-charge of Maharashtra A K Antony and her political secretary Ahmed Patel over the fate of the alliance.

"I do not want the Congress-NCP alliance to break for two to four seats," Pawar said shortly after he flew into the Capital from Mumbai amid mounting suspense over a seat-sharing formula for the October 13 polls. Nominations open on September 18 and close on September 25.

Sources said the Congress would like to contest 179 seats, thirteen more it fought in 2004 polls and give 109 seats as against 122.

Pawar said he has not received any "specific proposal" from the Congress on sharing of seats.

Ahmed Patel and Antony sped past waiting newsmen outside Sonia's 10 Janpath residence without talking to newsmen after an hour long meeting with the Congress chief.

Some Congress leaders are of the view that the two parties should have an alliance but should have friendly contests in areas like sugar-rich Western Maharashtra region. Sources said the Congress and the NCP were deadlocked over allotment of 10 seats.

Asked whether the alliance will break, Pawar said, "Let us hope there is understanding."

"I think both parties are ready to prepare their list and I have completed my job for selection of candidates and left everything to the state leadership and I just told them you tell me send a message when shall I come to the state for campaigning," Pawar said.

Asked whether the two parties would contest together like in 2004 or separately like in 1999, Pawar said, "How can I say anything today when nothing definite has been told to me?".

Pawar said it is good for the state as also both the parties that they contest together.

A decision by Sonia is expected to be made anytime now amid a keen tussle in the party over the issue of alliance.

Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is the chairman of the state election management committee of the Congress, said the party was preparing for all the 288 seats in the state and was "not waiting for anything." Deshmukh is a known detractor of Pawar and wants the Congress to go it alone in the polls.

Pawar said every political party has to prepare for all the seats at stake till the issue of an alliance is finalised.

Asked whether the Congress is pushing for taking into account the new ground realities after the recent Lok Sabha polls, Pawar said, "at least no one has talked to me."

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, September 14, 2009, 00:15

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