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`I will not break alliance with Cong for a few seats`

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

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

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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